State

Maine’s federal courts run out of money Friday but will keep operating

Federal courts will run out of money Friday because of the government shutdown, but will continue operating with essential personnel, U.S. District Judge Jon Levy, chief judge for the District of Maine, announced Friday.

“The [courts in Portland and Bangor] will continue to process new and pending criminal, civil and bankruptcy cases after Jan. 18, even if a lapse in funds has taken hold,” he said in a statement. “Case conferences, hearings, and jury and non-jury trials will be held, and new cases will be accepted.”

If the government shutdown, which began Dec. 22, is not resolved by Friday, Levy said he would announce what positions would be furloughed until the stalemate between President Donald Trump and Congress is resolved.

[Congress to face same question: When will the shutdown end?]

Payment to attorneys who represent indigent criminal defendants were suspended Dec. 24, the judge said. Lawyers will receive payment after the shutdown is resolved.

Other cost-saving measures Levy cited included: postponing or canceling all training and non-case related travel; suspending promotions of current and hiring of new personnel; postponing contractual services and facility improvements; putting all administrative work that is not related to the resolution of cases on hold; and suspending other functions not directly related to carrying out the court’s primary mission of administering justice.

Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office have and will continue to work during the shutdown without pay.

Levy praised the court employees and defense attorneys for their dedication.

“The employees of the District of Maine have worked hard to keep our courts operating during this period of uncertainty,” the judge said. “They are, without exception, committed public servants without whom the administration of justice would not be possible. … The dedication and professionalism of both the court’s staff and these lawyers is truly exemplary.”

This article originally appeared on www.bangordailynews.com.

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