AS PARTIAL FEDERAL SHUTDOWN DRAGS ON

District Court funding lapses Friday

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Mangloña said the U.S. Judiciary has managed to find sufficient funds to have the District Court operating until this Friday as the partial federal government shutdown continues.

“It is unfortunate that we are in a shutdown,” said Mangloña in an interview at the inauguration ceremony for Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios Monday at the Northern Mariana Islands Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.

The judge said after this Friday, they will be getting guidance from their administrative office.

“Friday, 18th we’re funded, after that we’re not funded like the Executive Branch,” Mangloña said.

She said it is the same situation with the U.S. District Court for Guam.

U.S. District Court for Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood was with Manglona at the inauguration ceremony.

Even with the shutdown, the federal court, however, will not be closed because of the constitutional rights issue.

Mangloña said they are looking forward to an appropriation soon.

The federal government partial shutdown is currently plaguing the U.S. mainland. It was reported last Monday that about 800,000 federal government workers missed paychecks last Friday.

Proceedings in at least two civil cases against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and co-defendants filed in federal court have also been delayed in light of the federal government shutdown.

Mangloña recently granted DHS’ and co-defendants’ unopposed motion to stay proceedings in light of lapse of appropriations in the two lawsuits.

In a motion to stay proceedings in the two cases, assistant U.S. attorney Jessica F. Wessling, counsel for DHS and co-defendants, said at the end of the day last Dec. 21, the appropriations act that had been funding the Department of Justice expired and appropriations to the department lapsed.

Wessling said the same is true for several other Executive agencies, including the DHS.

She said DOJ does not know when funding will be restored by Congress.

Wessling said the Anti-Deficiency Act as construed by the Attorney General, provides that “in the absence of appropriated funds no obligation can be incurred except for the protection of life and property, the orderly suspension of operations, or as otherwise authorized by law.”

She said absent an appropriation, DOJ attorneys and employees of the federal DHS are prohibited from working, even on a voluntary basis, except in very limited circumstances, including “emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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