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March 24, 2019

Federal courts use funding reserves as government shutdown drags on

January 9, 2019
Manhattan Federal Court, 40 Foley Square, Manhattan, New York. NY (Jefferson Siegel / New York Daily News)

Jury duty is about to become a little less rewarding.

The federal government shutdown could take a toll on jury duty if the impasse stretches into Friday, officials said.

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Manhattan Federal Court faces a Jan. 18 deadline when reserve funding will run out and court operations will likely be reduced.

The busy courthouse has been functioning as normal since the shutdown now on its 18th day, though civil cases involving Manhattan Federal prosecutors have been put on hold.

If the shutdown continues to next Friday, however, the courthouse could become much quieter.

That’s when money will be unavailable to pay for jurors’ service, eliminating a big incentive for them to show up. It is also unclear which court staff will be deemed “essential,” meaning they will be expected to continue showing up to work, according to the District Executive’s office that oversees court operations. The Probation Department and Pre-Trial Services, for example, do not yet know who will be expected to work after Jan. 18.

District judges will continue to get paid. U.S. Marshals, as the Daily News reported Tuesday, are not expected to receive their usual paycheck on Friday. That includes the Marshals in Brooklyn tasked with guarding the most notorious drug dealer in the world, El Chapo. Prosecutors are not being paid, though the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office has continued bringing major cases.

The shutdown has gotten President Trump — and the government — a temporary reprieve from having to defend in some notable civil cases.

In one case, a group of people have sued Trump, his company and three children alleging defrauded consumers by endorsing bogus business opportunities. Last month, a judge allowed the group of people who sued to remain anonymous because Trump tends to bully those who dare sue him.

Government lawyers also are defending Trump in a lawsuit, filed by the PEN American Center, alleging his repeated threats of the press violate the First Amendment.

Another lawsuit against Trump challenges his use of the Presidential Alerts system that sends messages to cellphones.

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