Pennsylvania Federal Courts Respond To The Government Shutdown

In the wake of the October 1, 2013 government shutdown, federal courts across Pennsylvania have started preparing for what lies ahead.  Although the federal courts have enough resources to support the courts for ten business days from the start of the shutdown, it is imperative for the courts to have a plan in the event that the shutdown outlasts their reserved funds.  Thus far, courts are required to distinguish between essential and non-essential employees, the former being furloughed, and the latter working without pay through the shutdown.  This has proven to be particularly difficult because the courts are already working with minimum employees and to have to furlough any employees would disrupt the basic functioning of the court.  For this reason, federal courts in both New York and Pennsylvania have deemed all of their employees to be essential.

Generally, the chief judges are free to choose how their courts will handle the government shutdown.  For example, U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti has delegated the power to plan for the shutdown to a select committee of judges and other interested parties.  However, even with the shutdown looming over the federal courts, nearly all are hoping to continue with their regular schedule.  Therefore, even those attorneys who have been furloughed by federal agencies, aside from those who represent non-emergency civil cases, are expected to appear on their scheduled dates in order to ensure the continued functionality of the federal courts during the shutdown.

Special thanks to Colleen Hayes for her contributions to this post.  For more information, please contact Nicole Y. Brown at nbrown@wcmalw.com.