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What Happens to Courts if the Federal Government Closes?

April 05, 2011

If Congress is unable to agree on the continued funding of government before April 8th, the Judiciary is prepared to use non-appropriated fees to keep the courts running for up to two weeks.

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 judicial 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 defense 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.