Federal Courts Preparing To Feel Impact Of Shutdown

Jan 24, 2019, 12:52 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Federal courts will soon start feeling the impacts of the government shutdown.

If it continues, the Federal Courthouse in Salt Lake City will run out of funds at midnight on Jan. 31. That will mean cutbacks will have to be made, and civil cases will have to be postponed.

“The curtailment of funding will slow or halt many cases and likely eliminate the availability of fees for jurors and travel expenses,” according to a statement from the Federal Bar Association. “If our federal courts undergo limited operations, the judiciary’s capacity to pay its non-judge workforce also will be exhausted, widening the hardship already being needlessly suffered by our nation’s public servants.”

Mark Jones, the court clerk for the United States Courthouse in Salt Lake City, said it could be up to the judges to decide what will move forward and what will be put on hold.

“The judges are really concerned about following the mandate to keep the Constitutional responsibilities,” he said.

Jones said one concern is the court won’t be able to pay the jurors who come from all over the state. Jurors would get back pay once the shutdown is over, though.

Up until the end of the month, the federal court has had provisions in legislation from Congress that allowed them use carryover money, fine money and filing fees to fund salaries.  That money, however, is about to be depleted.

There are other concerns as well. People waiting for naturalization ceremonies will be unable to become U.S. citizens, and contract workers with the federal courts will not receive back pay.

The shutdown has already had an effect on government employees who have been furloughed as a result. Some employees, however, are still working and are on the verge of missing their second paychecks.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on three plans that could end the partial government shutdown.

The first one is in the Senate and is based on President Donald Trump’s proposal that would fund a wall at the Southern Border and provide protection to Dreamers. The second, also in the Senate, would reopen the government for two weeks and would not include money for a wall. The third, in the House, would provide $5.7 billion for what they’re calling a “smart wall” instead of a physical wall.

With all three anticipated to fail, there remains no end in sight to the shutdown.

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Federal Courts Preparing To Feel Impact Of Shutdown