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Federal Judge Goodwin says no to halting court for shutdown

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal judge from West Virginia says his court should be exempt from the effects of the federal shutdown affecting the U.S. Department of Justice.

Judge Goodwin

U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin, whose courtroom is in the Southern District of West Virginia, issued a general order on Wednesday exempting cases assigned to him.

“It is my view that the government should not be given special influence or accomodation in cases where such special considerations are unavailable to other litigants,” Goodwin wrote.

“The government, like all parties, is ‘required to find the means by which to continue its participation in its litigation on a timely basis regardless of internal issues.'”

Goodwin’s order was in response to a prior order by U.S. District Judge Irene Berger, who also sits in the Southern District, holding civil matters in abeyance in which the United States is a party.

Her order was prompted by the federal shutdown and its effects on the Department of Justice, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The Berger order referenced federal furloughs and staffing shortages.

“Therefore, the lapse in appropriations requires a reduction in the workforce of the United States Attorney’s Office and other federal agencies, particularly with respect to the prosecution of civil cases,” she wrote.

Federal courts in West Virginia have enough funding through court fee balances and other funds to operate until next week before they will be affected by the shutdown.

While many staff will continue to work without pay to ensure the judiciary and law enforcement continues, some employees will likely be furloughed, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., noted.

Judge Goodwin’s order drew attention amid the ongoing coverage of the shutdown and its effects.

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