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Shutdown Impacts Certain Federal Cases

December 29, 2018

Most federal civil cases involving parties represented by the U.S. Attorney’s office in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania have been put on indefinite hold pending resolution of the government shutdown.

Christopher C. Conner, chief judge for the Middle District, issued a order Thursday that halts all activity until funding is restored to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The order impacts only civil cases in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office provides legal representation to a party who is a plaintiff or defendant. It does not impact criminal cases, bankruptcy cases or other civil matters that involve private parties represented by private counsel.

In an interview Friday, Conner said he did not have an estimate of the number of cases affected by the stay.

“It would be a minority of cases but it’s still a significant number,” he said.

Some of the more common cases that will be affected include challenges to the denial of Social Security disability claims, mortgage foreclosures involving federally insured properties, employment disputes involving the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and medical malpractice cases against the Veteran’s Administration Hospital.

Conner said he issued the stay in order to save attorneys from having to file individual motions in cases, which would potentially flood the court.

“Given the uncertainty associated with the length of the government shutdown, we felt it was important to address it in a general fashion so that there is a clear cut stay of proceedings,” he said.

In a prepared statement, David Freed,U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, said the stay will help his office better manage civil cases during the funding lapse.

“I have every confidence that we will be able to manage this delay and get our cases immediately back on track when funding resumes,” Freed said.

The Middle District covers 33 counties, including Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Wayne and Wyoming.

Contact the writer:

tbesecker@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9137

@tmbeseckerTT

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