The local Chief Federal Judge says government shutdown or no government shutdown, the local federal criminal courts will not close, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery told 1200 WOAI's Michael Board that the right to a speedy trial is enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and he will make sure the Constitution is respected, regardless of the bungling in Washington DC.
"The criminals benefit from speedy trial problems and so free," Biery said. "We don't want that."
The Justice Department had said that the courts have enough money to work about two business weeks despite new appropriations. That ten business days came to an end this week, but Biery says he has no intention of putting down his gavel.
"Especially the criminal cases," he said. "We can't risk letting the criminals run free."
It is unclear how federal court employees and Biery himself will be paid for continuing to work during the shutdown. Although the federal courts have been declared 'essential' government activities, if there are no appropriations from Congress, paychecks and other operating funds are in doubt.
He admits this is not a great decision for morale, and he says the entire government shutdown is annoying.
"It's just not the American way," he said. "It's almost like a third world country."