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Shutdown Over, Future Hearings to Continue as Planned

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on October 17, 2013 4:07 PM

Wednesday marked the government's 16th and final day of the government shutdown, and the D.C. Circuit was prepared on or around Thursday to reassess its position on the impasse.

According to USA Today, even astronauts were keeping up to date on the shutdown, as NASA had been reduced to less than 4% of its employees.

The D.C. Circuit isn't keeping its employees alive in a zero-G vacuum -- although publishing opinions may be rocket science -- but its services may have changed if the government shutdown continued.

Court Planned Reassess the Situation

In a release published in early October, the D.C. Circuit's website proclaimed that it would remain open for business "for approximately three weeks" during the government shutdown.

On Wednesday, that same page related that while all other hearings and deadlines will remain as scheduled, "[o]n or about October 17, 2013" the D.C. Circuit "will reassess its situation and provide further guidance."

FindLaw contacted the D.C. Circuit Clerk's office on Wednesday and were informed that there was no public information at the time regarding this reassessment of the shutdown on Thursday.

Though it seems a moot point now, the Court's calendar reflects that it planned hear oral arguments in USA v. Stephen Hunter (a criminal appeal) on October 17. This could have been bad news for federal prosecutors, since the docket of the case suggested that the U.S. attorney filed the form to appear for oral arguments on Wednesday, six days too late for Thursday's oral arguments.

What About Future Shutdowns?

The current marching order for the federal courts, shutdown or no, is to carry on with business as usual, with no employees being furloughed. No circuit more than the D.C. Circuit has taken this to heart, with the Court continuing in its month-long streak of not publishing opinions and denying motions to reschedule cases.

If a future shutdown does force the D.C. Circuit into suspending services, it is anyone's guess what employees would be furloughed.

Now with government employees returning to work, it is unclear whether the DOJ will be able to disentangle itself from the docket-clogging motions and tactics its attorneys had engaged in during the shutdown, reports The Associated Press.

Now that the shutdown is over, let's hope the D.C. Circuit can squeeze out a published opinion by the end of October.

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