Shutdown Affects Prosecutor Training, Immigration Courts

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The 24-day-old partial federal shutdown is hobbling enforcement efforts. halting power plant and oil well inspections, slowing financial fraud probes and tax audits, thwarting plane crash investigations and delaying a probe into Facebook’s privacy practices, reports Politico. The resulting pileup could take months to untangle after the shutdown ends. The shutdown forced the Justice Department to cancel a training session for prosecutors about online markets on the “dark web” where criminals trade in narcotics, child pornography and other illicit goods. The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section was scheduled to host the Dark Market and Online Investigations Seminar from Jan. 8 to 10. The seminar, which was to be held at DOJ’s National Advocacy Center in Columbia, S.C., would have included briefings by FBI agents and federal prosecutors involved in takedowns of major markets. Without this training, one employee said, prosecutors “may not have the knowledge they need to effectively investigate crime ranging from computer intrusions to child pornography to the sale of narcotics and more.”

Federal immigration courts have drastically reduced their workload as most of 400 judges have been furloughed, said Ashley Tabaddor of the National Association of Immigration Judges. That will add to the court’s growing case backlog, which stands at more than 809,000, says to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. As many as 100,000 people waiting for a court hearing could be affected if the shutdown continues through the end of the month. Judges who hear cases of detained migrants have continued to work without pay. Judges who handle the “non-detained docket” have been furloughed. Judges who preside over non-detained dockets, including certain requests for asylum, can involve waits of several years, which mean a canceled court date can’t easily be placed back on the calendar.

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