U.S. Attorney Office staff down by about half due to federal government shutdown
CONCORD -- New Hampshire’s United States Attorney said Thursday he has been rotating furloughs of his 43-person staff during the government shutdown in a way that does not imperil public safety or slow or halt essential services required in support of the FBI.
But John Kacavas said the shutdown is making it more difficult on the remaining staff on any given day to prepare for pending cases.
“We are bring people in and furloughing people out according to the press of business,” said Kacavas.
“It’s a changing environment, but it will range from 19 and 22 or 23 being furloughed.
“So, we’re basically going to be furloughing,” without pay, “50 percent of our people as this appears to be continuing,” Kacavas said.
Kacavas said those being furloughed include attorneys and support staff.
“We’re triaging. If there is a hearing or a meeting with opposing counsel that has been scheduled, we’re bringing those folks in to attend to those matters and furloughing other people who may not have a pressing matter that particular day.
“Those who are out would otherwise be paying attention to cases that are a little bit further out, but those cases are not getting the attention they require, so it’s going to be a matter of catch-up,” Kacavas explained.
Kacavas said his office provides investigative support to the FBI.
“If an agent in the field from the FBI needs a subpoena or a warrant, we’re there to do it,” he said. The FBI is not subject to furloughs.
Kacavas said his office is involved in white collar criminal and civil litigation “where fraudsters or other types of defendants are being pursued by the United States government for damages.
“So, it is ironic that we’re trying to collect money on behalf of the American taxpayer but the government is shut down and we’re not able to give it the attention it is due,” he said.
Kacavas said the shutdown is not affecting the “end stages” of cases, such as a plea or trial, or the beginning stages, such as an arraignment.
“But the stages that go between that beginning stage with arraignment or that end stage with plea or trial are sort of being held in abeyance because those prosecutors are out,” he said.
“We have deadlines, so typically an Assistant U.S. Attorney would come in and work on strategy and prepare a case, and that’s not being done.
“It’s not imperiling public safety, but it makes it very difficult to do the job when you have to do it coming back and behind the eight ball,” he said.