CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If the federal government shuts down this weekend, several West Virginia institutions say they'll proceed with business as usual as much as they can.
People shouldn't notice any difference at the Robert C. Byrd U.S. District Courthouse in Charleston, at least for a while, Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin said Thursday.
Goodwin there are enough funds generated by fees, plus some leftover appropriations, to continue operations as normal for a short period.
"The entire court system should be able to stay up and running for a week or two based on fees," he said. "Then, the decision becomes what's essential and what's non-essential."
Teresa L. Deppner, clerk of the U.S. District Court for Southern West Virginia, said the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts has told federal courts to continue operations for up to two weeks using fees.
"After that first two weeks, further guidance for phase two of a further shutdown would be coming from our court," she said.
Goodwin, who is a member of the Judicial Conference's Budget Committee, said that he does not anticipate any delays, particularly in criminal cases. Protecting the public should not take a back seat to the political climate in Washington, he said.
"I think it's fair to say that a government shutdown has the potential to have a devastating effect on the administration of justice," he said.
If furloughs were put into place, government employees would not be allowed to use government issued cellphones and laptops to keep working from home, Goodwin said.
"The public would notice a decline in services within 30 days," he said. "You can't run the judiciary, or any other branch of government, without any money."
At West Virginia University, those most affected could be students who missed the deadline to file for financial aid this year, said Kaye Widney, WVU's director of financial aid and scholarships.