US judge ignores edict to stop civil cases during shutdown

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal judge in West Virginia is ignoring an edict that certain civil cases in his district be suspended during the U.S. government’s shutdown.

Judge Irene Berger of West Virginia’s southern district had granted an order postponing civil cases involving government agencies. But Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston ruled Wednesday he’s going to hear cases assigned to him.

At the request of U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart, Berger last week ruled such civil cases will be stopped temporarily. She cited the “lapse of congressional appropriations funding the federal government” that required workforce reductions within the U.S. attorney’s office and other federal agencies.

But Goodwin wrote, “The government should not be given special influence or accommodation in cases where such special considerations are unavailable to other litigants.”

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Federal courts in other states, including Kentucky and in Manhattan, New York, also have suspended work on civil cases involving U.S. government lawyers.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said in a statement Wednesday that federal courts in the state will be able to operate until next week because they enough funding through court fee balances and other funds. He said many staff “will continue to work without pay to ensure the judiciary and law enforcement continues.”

Goodwin was nominated to the bench by President Bill Clinton in 1995. His son, Booth Goodwin, was Stuart’s predecessor in the southern district, serving as U.S. attorney from 2010 to 2015.

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