The chief judge for the U.S. District Court Northern District of Ohio has ordered that all civil cases involving the federal government be placed on hold because of the partial government shutdown.
Judge Patricia A. Gaughan made the order Dec. 26 because the civil attorneys in the U.S. attorney's office in Cleveland are on furlough during the shutdown, which began Dec. 22. The order affects pending cases in federal courts in Akron, Cleveland, Toledo and Youngstown.
"We don't have any civil lawyers in the U.S. attorney's office and they represent the United States of America," Gaughan said Friday.
The order is more efficient than the U.S. attorney's office filing individual requests for delays in each case, she said.
The order does not affect civil cases filed between private individuals or companies, or criminal cases.
Mike Tobin, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said the shutdown is affecting thousands of ongoing civil cases in northern Ohio — everything from government-filed suits involving the Clean Water Act and Americans with Disabilities Act to cases involving people suing the federal government.
The civil attorneys will pick up the cases when they return to work, he said. The Cleveland office has about 25 civil attorneys.
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in Washington, D.C., was unaware whether other federal judges have issued orders to put civil cases on hold.
"I would be shocked if they didn't," Gaughan said.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.