Government Shutdown? No Problem! 8th Cir. Is Open for Business

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on October 15, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When October 17th rolls around, if the judiciary funding is exhausted due to the government shutdown, the Eighth Circuit will still keep its doors open.

As we've discussed before, federal courts are financially running on fumes, trying to maintain operations set at the minimum required for Article III obligations.

But the Eighth Circuit is holding sown the fort. Chief Judge William Jay Riley entered an order last week declaring that "the work of all Eighth Circuit Court Staff is necessary and essential to support the exercise of the Court's Article III judicial power," according to the memo released by Clerk of Court Michael E. Gans.

All Work and No Pay Makes Jack a Government Employee

As a result, if the judiciary's funding runs out on October 17 or 18, as currently predicted, all court staff will continue to report to work, without pay, so that the Court may discharge its constitutional and statutory mandate. Unfortunately, it's unclear whether court staff will be compensated for their work later on.

For practitioners in the Eighth Circuit, the news brings a sense of relief. Feel free to carry on as usual as the Clerk's Office will maintain normal business hours and conduct all regular business activities. Also, don't slack off because all filing deadlines remain in effect.

All Work and All Pay Makes Jack a CJA Attorney

If you're an attorney appointed under the Criminal Justice Act, don't go and take the shutdown as a cue to book an impromptu vacation. Per the court's memo, you best continue your representation and -- unlike court staff -- submit your vouchers for payment (albeit your new, lower pay grade). Payment of vouchers will be delayed pending the passage of funding, but you will get paid. Eventually.

In the event an attorney requires an extension of time for the filing of a brief, pleading or other document because of the shutdown, the attorney or their office should contact the Clerk's Office for directions.

Every court is making its own determination regarding staffing and operations. If you have cases pending in other courts, the Eighth Circuit urges you to check those courts' websites for information on their shutdown plans.

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