Federal courts in Maine to run out of money this week

Published 01-15-2019

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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Federal courts are expected to run out of money by week's end in Maine, but trials, hearings and new cases will proceed during the partial federal government shutdown, a judge said.

Chief Judge Jon Levy said steps have been taken to reduce costs but that money is projected to run out on Friday. Court officials are sorting out which workers are performing essential tasks related to the administration of justice and which will be furloughed, he wrote.

Judicial proceedings at federal courthouses in Bangor and Portland will continue under the Anti-Deficiency Act, a federal law that governs operations in the event of a funding lapse.

"The U.S. District Court for the District of Maine will continue to process new and pending criminal, civil and bankruptcy cases after Jan. 18th, even if a lapse in funds has taken hold," Levy wrote Friday.

Across the country, each of the 94 federal districts is being given leeway to deal with the shutdown. Several jurisdictions have delayed some civil cases.

In Maine, funding for federal public defenders was suspended on Christmas Eve, and cost-cutting efforts included postponing training and travel, delaying promotions and hiring, and suspending functions not directly related to the administration of justice, Levy wrote.

Luke Rioux, a defense attorney, said the system currently depends on the goodwill of attorneys and others who're willing to go without pay.

"Many of these federal cases involve people who are in jail waiting for their charges to be resolved. While everyone is working to ensure that these matters are not delayed, a lack of funding will, at some stage, make delays inevitable," he wrote Monday in an email.

Levy thanked government attorneys and public defenders for continuing their service even though some have not been paid since the start of the shutdown.

"The employees of the District of Maine have worked hard to keep our courts operating during this period of uncertainty. They are, without exception, committed public servants without whom the administration of justice would not be possible," he wrote.

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This story has been corrected to show the

Luke Rioux, a defense attorney, said the system currently depends on the goodwill of attorneys and others who're willing to go without pay.

"Many of these federal cases involve people who are in jail waiting for their charges to be resolved. While everyone is working to ensure that these matters are not delayed, a lack of funding will, at some stage, make delays inevitable," he wrote Monday in an email.

Levy thanked government attorneys and public defenders for continuing their service even though some have not been paid since the start of the shutdown.

"The employees of the District of Maine have worked hard to keep our courts operating during this period of uncertainty. They are, without exception, committed public servants without whom the administration of justice would not be possible," he wrote.

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This story has been corrected to show the spelling of the judge's name is Jon, not John.

Levy thanked government attorneys and public defenders for continuing their service even though some have not been paid since the start of the shutdown.

"The employees of the District of Maine have worked hard to keep our courts operating during this period of uncertainty. They are, without exception, committed public servants without whom the administration of justice would not be possible," he wrote.

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This story has been corrected to show the spelling of the judge's name is Jon, not John.

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