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  • WisBar News
    January 11, 2019

    Amid Shutdown, Federal Courts in Wisconsin Using Fees to Fund Operations (UPDATED)

    Seventh Circuit

    This article was updated on Jan. 17, 2019

    Jan. 11, 2019 – Wondering how the partial shutdown of the federal government will impact your case in federal district or bankruptcy court? The federal courts in Wisconsin have issued notices that all cases and proceedings will continue as scheduled, at least through Jan. 25, 2019.

    Since the shutdown on Dec. 22, the federal judiciary has continued paid operations through court fees and other “no-year” funds. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts recently said it hopes to continue paid operations through Jan. 25, 2019.

    That is, after that estimated date, the U.S. Courts will have no funding to support paid operations. If new appropriations aren’t available, the U.S. Courts will continue operations under the Anti-Deficiency Act, which requires “essential work” to continue.

    A press release from U.S. Courts said “some federal courts have issued orders suspending, postponing, or holding in abeyance civil cases in which the government is a party for a limited period, subject to further consideration, or until appropriated funds become available” while “[c]riminal cases are expected to proceed uninterrupted.”

    The district and bankruptcy courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin have issued orders and/or notices indicating that all proceedings will continue without delay for now, at least through next week.

    The chief judges for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Wisconsin issued a joint order this week, noting “all cases shall continue as scheduled unless otherwise notified” and that “all essential staff are needed to maintain essential work of the judiciary.”

    The order identifies “essential staff” as district, magistrate, and bankruptcy judges, bankruptcy and district court clerks, the chief of probation, and their staff members.

    “Essential staff must report to work during the absence of the appropriation to ensure the activities necessary to support the exercise of the Article III judicial power, the emergency activities necessary for the safety of human life and protection of property, and the activities authorized by law, either expressly or by necessary implication,” the order notes.

    The order takes effect when the fee and no-year appropriations run dry, which is expected to occur after Jan. 18, and continues in effect “until superseded by an appropriation, continuing resolution, statute or further order of this court.”

    The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin issued a notice on its website that simply says: “For the immediate future, all proceedings will occur as normal during any government shutdown.”

    However, a notice posted on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin’s website says that court “will remain open and continue operations through January 19, 2019, at which time the federal judiciary will reassess its situation.”

    The State Bar of Wisconsin will continue to monitor the funding situation and report any changes that may impact cases and proceedings in the district and bankruptcy courts.

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