Like pulling out the winter coat and discovering $20 in the pocket, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts announced Monday that the federal courts have a little more money around after all, and will continue operating a few days longer, should the partial government shutdown continue.
The AOC stated court fee balances and other “no-year” funds will allow the courts to operate close to normal until Jan. 18. Previously, the AOC said that money would run out Friday. To stretch their dollars, “courts have been asked to delay or defer non-mission critical expenses, such as new hires, non-case related travel and certain contracts. Judiciary employees are reporting to work and currently are in full-pay status.”
Courts, including those in the Southern District of Georgia, have stayed some civil cases — especially those that involve Justice Department attorneys and other executive branch staff. The AOC stated the General Services Administration is currently drawing down operations and doing what can be done to save money while minimizing the impact on services.
Criminal cases will continue, relatively unaffected.
Reports Wednesday afternoon from the White House indicate the shutdown is no closer to ending. President Donald Trump, according to news accounts, walked into the bipartisan meeting and asked Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi if she would back funding for a wall on the border with Mexico, if he allowed funding to reopen the government. She said no, and the president left the meeting.
The Glynn County drug shed case is drawing to a close, with four sentencings and a plea agreement coming in the next weeks. John Eugene Overcash, listed as the top defendant in the indictment, is set to plead guilty Tuesday at 11 a.m. He was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distributing cocaine, crack and marijuana, possession of 500 grams or more of cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, maintaining a drug-involved premises, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and illegal use of a phone.
Darrius Merrell’s sentencing is set for Feb. 6 at 1:30 p.m. He pleaded guilty Oct. 15 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distributing a quantity of cocaine, a lesser-included offense. The crime carries with it a maximum term of 20 years in prison and three years’ supervised release.
Richard Carter is to receive his sentence Feb. 8 at 10:30 a.m. Carter pleaded guilty Sept. 21 to possession of a quantity of marijuana with intent to distribute, which was also a lesser-included offense. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and two years’ supervised release.
Sentencing for Troy Crosby is also Feb. 8, at 1 p.m. He pleaded guilty Aug. 13 to distribution of cocaine, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, with a minimum of three years’ supervised release.
Following Crosby’s sentencing will be the sentencing hearing for Anthony Bernard Lewis, at 1:30 p.m. the same day. Lewis pleaded guilty Oct. 22 to the lesser-included offense of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distributing a quantity of cocaine. As it’s the same crime as to what Merrell pleaded, it has the same maximum penalties.
In all, the federal grand jury presented this case issued 16 indictments. Following the sentencings of these four defendants, the case will be closed on six of the 16 charged.
In other federal criminal matters, Robert Curtis Johnson — the Jacksonville, Fla., man accused of running a drug distribution network in Southeast Georgia — received his arraignment Wednesday afternoon. As he still has a pending warrant in the Middle District of Florida, U.S. Magistrate Judge Benjamin Cheesbro determined that any bond discussions are moot. The court appointed attorney James B. Smith to represent Johnson.