Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Immigration courts, asset forfeiture, federal public defenders impacted by US government shutdown

I'd been thinking that the federal shutdown would have little effect on the criminal justice system because the criminal courts were exempted and it would be awhile before the shutdown would begin to impact federal grants. But this item from the Associated Press reminds me that the civil courts have been dramatically scaled back, which affects both immigration and federal asset forfeiture cases. Here are a few highlights:
The government shutdown is slowing the wheels of justice in federal courts by delaying civil cases, forcing prosecutors to operate with skeleton staffs and raising uncertainty about the system's immediate future if the stalemate continues past Thursday.

That's when federal courts officials expect the reserve funds they have been using since the Oct. 1 start of the shutdown will run out.

Criminal cases, which are required by law to go to a speedy trial, are still moving ahead, as are most bankruptcy cases and appeals. Civil cases and those in immigration court, however, are feeling the greatest impact from the shutdown. ...
Prosecutors, staff and experts from other federal agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency needed to help try civil cases have been furloughed. U.S. attorneys requested judges to temporarily set aside some cases, while a few districts have requested a blanket halt to all civil cases.

In Los Angeles, 51 federal prosecutors and nearly 50 staff working civil cases have been sent home, leaving the Justice Department to file stay requests as deadlines approach. Some requests have been granted, others denied, U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. said. ...
Federal public defenders also are feeling the crunch, deferring an increasing number of cases to private attorneys — a practice that had already been in the rise due to cuts from the automatic budget cuts earlier this year.

But the fund to pay those attorneys ran out in September and the shutdown has made the situation worse, Hall said.
What a cluster f*%k. MORE: From the Austin Statesman.

1 comment:

Lee said...

I would have thought they would go back to milking that asset forfeiture cow for all it was worth.