Marianas Variety

Last updateSun, 20 Oct 2019 8pm







    Sunday, October 20, 2019-5:37:46A.M.






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Despite partial US government shutdown, NMI district court remains open

WITH or without pay, the District Court for the NMI will remain open to the public, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona told Variety.

She said she has received notice from the U.S. Courts Administrative Office that she might not receive a paycheck due to the partial federal government shutdown.

The court has been operating by using court fees collected and “no-year” funds, she added.

She said the administrative office has been working hard to identify funds to be able to finance the court employees’ salaries.

“They initially gave notice that they have enough funding through Jan. 11, 2019, but this Thursday morning we received another notice that the judiciary will be able to fund full operation through Jan. 25,” the judge added.

“These lapses in funding are described as Phase 1 when we have identified some other funds to allow for operations. Phase 2 is when there are no more funds to use. [When that happens] we are going to be subject to the same terms and conditions under the Anti-Deficiency Act that is now affecting the executive branch. That means we have to focus on what the law will allow us to continue doing.

“The first issue is regarding the constitutional purposes of the judiciary which include opening the court house and allowing litigants to assert their constitutional rights.

“Parties who want to come and file a case during the shutdown can do so,” the judge said.

She said the administrative office has assured fund is available to cover the Feb. 1 paycheck for federal judges.

“But for March 1, I am not sure. Hopefully there is a resolution by March 1,” she added.

Even if there is no paycheck, she said she still recognizes her duty to perform her constitutional mandate.

As for the district court employees, the judge said they will be “working for free” after Jan. 25.

“If the budget has not been passed and we don’t have any other  funds identified then basically the employees are going to be ordered to work without an assurance that there will  be a timely payroll until there is a budget.”

She does not know how long the partial federal government shutdown will last.

 She noted that President Donald Trump has signed the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019 which “requires the compensation of government employees for wages lost, work performed, or leave used during a lapse in appropriations that begins on or after Dec. 22, 2018, and entitles excepted employees to use leave during a lapse in appropriations.”

This means that once the U.S. government gets a budget all the employees who are ordered to work but not timely paid will be paid, Judge Manglona said.

 “All the employees who were furloughed — meaning employees who were instructed to stay home or  not to come to work — will be able to get a back pay.”

She said even with the partial federal government shutdown, “if there is any defendant under supervised release, the U.S. Probation Office will continue to supervise the defendant whether under pre-trial or after sentencing, whether they are on supervised release from probation or they are under location monitoring — all conditions are still enforceable.”