government shutdown budget

Dark days in Washington are having an impact on the federal courts. (Photo: Los Angeles Times)

The national news is all about the federal government shutdown lately, and everything about it is in debate—from its cause to its effects.

Although it will end sometime (there I go being all optimistic), the effect is my focus today—especially the effect on courts.

A few story’s in the past few days have addressed the shutdown’s impact on the courts. For example, in a story slugged “Nation’s judges brace for shutdown’s full impact,” National Law Journal reporter Zoe Tillman writes:

“As the end of the first week approached with no budget deal, … chief judges of federal trial and appellate courts across the country grappled with what to do once the money runs out.”

“‘We’re all working through it, trying to figure out where we’re going to go right now,” Chief Judge Morrison England Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California said. “We’re in uncharted territory right now.’”

“Judges said they received guidance from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on preparing for a shutdown, but each court was coming up with its own plan.”

The ABA Journal reports that courts are open “but not operating normally.” And in case the already-slow judicial confirmation process needed another roadblock, the shutdown provided one.

In what may (or may not be) partisan brinksmanship, lawmakers (mainly Democratic) have raised concerns and even scheduled hearings on the impact on the judiciary.

At a hearing yesterday, a panel of lawyers told the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that the impasse would cause great harm to the judicial system. (Read the article, also by Zoe Tillman.)

Panel of lawyers addresses House Judiciary Committee on the impact on courts of the government shutdown, Oct. 8, 2013 (Photo: Blog of Legal Times)

Panel of lawyers addresses House Judiciary Committee on the impact on courts of the government shutdown, Oct. 8, 2013 (Photo: Blog of Legal Times)

Another wrinkle came as the executive branch—in the persona of federal prosecutors—and the judicial branch disagreed over whether trials could be postponed. As the Blog of the Legal Times reports about the DC Circuit:

“Citing the government shutdown, U.S. Justice Department lawyers urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to postpone certain cases set for hearings last week and through the end of this week.”

“The court, in at least seven instances and without comment, rejected the government’s requests. The private lawyers in the cases were not entirely eager to have argument hearings pushed back to a date uncertain.”

What are you seeing in your own federal practice, in Arizona or elsewhere? Have you gotten word that your case may experience delays? Have the courts’ efforts to juggle resources to maintain constitutional requirements in criminal cases caused scheduling issues in civil trials?