The E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, like federal courts nationwide, is preparing for the possibility of two worst-case scenarios on October 1: a government shutdown or the extension of mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration.
Washington's local judiciary also faces a unique challenge. Unlike any other jurisdiction, the federally funded local courts here—the D.C. Superior Court and D.C. Court of Appeals—are also paying close attention to the budget showdown on Capitol Hill. The federal judiciary announced this week that in the event of a shutdown, reserve funds were available to continue operating normally for 10 days.
The local court system, however, wouldn't be so lucky. D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Eric Washington said that if Congress failed to pass a budget by the beginning of fiscal year 2014 on October 1, local court officials had submitted a plan to the Office of Management and Budget that involved sending home certain employees deemed "nonessential."