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Federal court, many Justice agencies remain open during shutdown

Published October 1, 2013 10:57 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

While many federal government operations are shut down as a result of Congress' failure to pass a funding resolution, the good and the bad will continue to battle in court.

U.S. District Court in Utah has adequate funds to continue accepting filings and holding hearings for about 10 business days. Then, it will reassess.

Several federal court-related agencies, such as the Federal Public Defender, had already implemented furloughs and reduced hours because of sequestration.

A memo outlining the Department of Justice's contingency plan in the event of a shutdown — which it assumes for planning purposes would last five days — says that many of its agencies are exempted from "antideficiency act" restrictions. Some activities operate on multi-year funds (such as the Bureau of Prisons), use appropriations that don't have to be renewed or are presidential appointees, such as U.S. Attorney for Utah David Barlow.

Of DOJ's 114,486 employees, a vast majority — 96,300 — fall in one of those categories.

Priority No. 1 will be maintaining the safety and security of the United States: "The law enforcement capacity of the U.S. Government should not be impaired or perceived to be impaired. To do so could constitute an imminent threat to the safety of human life and the protection of property."

Other points of note:

• "Criminal litigation will continue without interruption as an activity essential to the safety of human life and the protection of property."

• "Civil litigation will be curtailed or postponed to the extent that this can be done without compromising to a significant degree the safety of human life or the protection of property."

• "New employees who are not in positions designated as 'emergency' should not start work during the lapse and should not be trained."

• "All FBI agents and support personnel in the field are considered excepted from furlough."

• "All agents in DEA field organizations are excepted from furlough because they support active counternarcotics investigations."

• Grant programs, such as community-oriented policing services and the Office on Violence Against Women, are "no-year" appropriations and "these activities may continue during a lapse as long as sufficient carryover funds remain."

— Brooke Adams




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