Trials & Litigation

'Quite a mess' in Manhattan US Atty's office; Holder calls shutdown 'unnecessary and harmful'

Federal criminal prosecutions are continuing after the government shutdown, but that doesn’t mean things are going smoothly.

Prosecutions in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan have been thrown into disarray, according to Lorin Reisner, the chief of the office’s criminal division. “From our perspective, it’s a mess,” Reisner said at a panel discussion on Tuesday. Bloomberg covered her remarks.

“We have 10 trials going on in the criminal division,” Reisner said, “and I spent half of yesterday making sure the paralegals who are working on those cases can continue working on those cases, or that we have others who can assist with those trials. … It’s been quite a mess from an administrative and support staff perspective.”

Attorney General Eric Holder also expressed his opinion in an email to employees, calling the shutdown “unnecessary and harmful,” the National Law Journal reports. Most of the furloughs in the Justice Department hit the civil division, leading government lawyers to seek stays in hundreds and perhaps thousands of civil cases.

One judge, however, denied a stay request. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly refused to delay a challenge to the merger of American Airlines and US Airways that is scheduled to be tried on Nov. 25.

One-third of the employees in the federally funded Washington, D.C., court system were furloughed, the NLJ says. Also hard hit were the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the International Trade Commission. The EEOC warned that the time limits for filing discrimination charges with the agency will not be extended during the shutdown.The EEOC planned to continue accepting discrimination complaints, though it couldn’t investigate them during the shutdown, the Huffington Post reports.

“Funding quirks” are allowing two agencies to stay open, at least for now, the NLJ says. They are the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. And the U.S. Supreme Court remains open through Friday, though its website said that “further notice will be provided” if the funding lapse continues past that time.

Prior coverage: “Federal judges urged by DOJ lawyers to stay civil cases because of government shutdown” “In event of shutdown, federal courts will stay open at least 10 business days” “ABA President Silkenat condemns shutdown, says Congress should ‘end the scorched-earth tactics’”

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