By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
As the United States government continues its stalemate on the federal budget and negotiations on the raising the debt ceiling, the government remains in shutdown, forcing hundreds of thousands of U.S. federal employees home from their jobs without pay.
Many federal entities have remained open during the government shutdown because the work done by these entities is deemed essential, since they assist in the protection of “human life and property.” When the shutdown was announced on Oct. 1, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced, in its contingency plan, that a “high percentage of [justice] activities and employees…can continue during a lapse in appropriations.”
Criminal litigation taking place in Brooklyn’s federal courts is not interrupted, but civil litigation is to be curtailed and limited wherever possible. The determination of which employees associated with civil litigation in Brooklyn’s federal courts, including EEOC claims, bankruptcy court, and federal civil rights cases, will be affected depends on which are deemed to be essential to the “safety of human life or the protection of property,” the DOJ noted and Robert Nardoza, spokesman for Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, confirmed.
Hon. Carol Amon, Eastern District chief judge, originally stated that she would not prejudge how to handle the curtailment of Eastern District employees if the government shutdown persists longer than Oct. 15. She refused to prepare any orders as to essential staff "until it's necessary to make that determination."
The time for necessity has arrived.
On Oct. 10, Amon issued an administrative order regarding all Eastern District employees deemed essential if the shutdown persists and monies are no longer available for the court’s function.
“The dispensing of justice is mandated by the Constitution and essential to government,” Amon noted in her order. As the “resolution of cases…is the only work product of the federal courts,” Amon continued, “all employees of the United States Eastern District of New York…are deemed essential as part of, or essential support for, the exercise of judicial powers.”
Amon’s order includes all courts associated with the Eastern District, including United States Bankruptcy Court, United States Pretrial Office, United States Probation Office, and the Office of the District Executive.
While the courts will continue to hear and rule on cases, accept new filings and collect costs and fees, some aspects of normal course of business will be halted. All travel should be “avoided” and all training will be “suspended.”
Amon’s order follows similar orders issued by the United States Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit and the Southern District federal court, both housed in Manhattan.