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US Federal Courts have just two weeks' funds remaining

Publication: 
Editorial Staff
chiefofficersnet

As the USA's crisis over the failure of Congress to finalise a Federal budget, the US Federal Courts system is one of those on the front line. What will happen if Congress fails to solve the problem tomorrow (8 April).

The Federal Judiciary has been considering what to do if the Federal money problem is not resolved.

The answer is simple: it will use its own, non-appropriated funding. But that will last for a maximum of two weeks.

After that, the Federal Courts system will be out of money and out of time.

Hearings including trial in progress will be cancelled or adjourned, courts shuttered and cases delayed indefinitely.

That's the worst case scenario.

But even on a less worrying reading of the situation, a statement from the Judiciary is hardly encouraging:

"Once that funding is exhausted, however, the federal court system faces serious disruptions. Following their own contingency plans, federal courts would limit operation to essential activities.

"For the federal courts, this would mean limiting activities to those functions necessary and essential to continue the resolution of cases. All other personnel services not related to performance of Article III functions would be suspended.

"The jury system would operate as necessary, although payments to jurors would be deferred. Attorneys and essential support staff in federal defender offices and court-appointed counsel would continue to provide defence services as needed, but again, payments would be deferred. Courts would determine the number of probation office staff needed to maintain service to the courts and the safety of the community. "

So the only way, even on the best reading of the situation, is that the courts system will continue to operate as best it can - but only by not paying its bills to those who need to be paid to meet living and business expenses.