Hispanic National Bar Association on Department of Justice Furloughs

Friday, October 4, 2013 - 08:38

The U.S. federal government announced it would be shutting down “nonessential” services after Congress was unable to reach an agreement on the funding of the federal government. Many agencies, including the Department of Justice, announced the impact the government shutdown would have on them.

“The government shutdown sends 800,000 hardworking Americans home without a paycheck and deprives millions of other Americans crucial services,” said HNBA National President Miguel Alexander Pozo, Esq. “Many Americans will see justice delayed. That is simply irresponsible.”

The Justice Department announced that several key divisions would be hardest hit. Those divisions with the highest percentage of employees furloughed include the Antitrust Division which will have 63 percent of its 619 employees on furlough, the Civil Rights Division which will furlough 71 percent of its 634 employees, and the Executive Office for Immigration Review will temporarily lose 70 percent of its 1,339 employees. Additionally, the Criminal Division would have 27 percent of its 955 employees, and the U.S. Attorneys would lose 37 percent of its 11,382 workforce.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. spoke to the press about the effects the government shutdown would have on the Justice Department, including the possibilities that DOJ would have to put prosecutors and investigators on furlough in the near future. The current contingency plan also directs civil litigators to petition the courts to postpone active cases until funding is available.

“People are trying to make a political point, and I’m trying to run a Justice Department,” Holder said. “This has real-world consequences for the employees of this department, who have to pay mortgages, who have to pay car notes, who have to buy groceries.”

“Housing issues, employment disputes, civil rights cases and other matters of civil litigation will be delayed. The dispute between the executive and the legislative branches is denying access to the countless number of citizens that daily come before the federal courts seeking justice,” said Mr.Pozo. “The government shutdown must end immediately.”