Blogs » On the Docket » Federal judiciary could shut down soon


The Southern District of Texas could run out of money to operate by Oct. 15 if lawmakers on Capitol Hill don't reach a budget agreement.

That could potentially delay cases. Here are some cases that are on the docket that day:

Jorge Johnson v. USA - jury selection

Johnson is charged with traffic in contraband articles, which could carry a punishment of up to 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.

He is accused of possessing 1.3 grams of a mixture containing a detectable amount of heroin on July 24, 2012 while in a federal correctional facility in Three Rivers.

Christopher Morales v. USA - jury selection

Morales is charged with unlawful transport of firearms and registration of firearms.

He is accused of affecting international and interstate commerce by possessing an unregistered, 20-gauge shot gun with the serial numbers scratched off on Aug. 12.

Officials also allege the barrel of the shotgun is 12.2 inches, less than the usual 18 inches.

On Oct. 16, Judge Gregg Costa is scheduled to hold at least three status conferences over the phone regarding civil cases.

One is a class action lawsuit against Wells Fargo, Wachovia and others. The plaintiffs are people who purchased lots in a now 800-acre resort development in Calhoun County alongside the Intracoastal Waterway. The development is called "The Sanctuary at Costa Grande."

In the original petition, the plaintiffs allege they incurred more than $90 million in losses due to unlawful conduct by the bank.

The lawsuit was filed on Aug. 31, 2011, but so far, I have not seen an original answer from the banks.

Here are some stories about the development:

Resort community: Big problems at the Sanctuary at Costa Grande?

Economy drags down sales of high-end coastal homes

The last federal government shut down in 1996 harmed the judiciary long after lawmakers reached an budget agreement. Retired U.S. District Judge W. Royal Furgeson Jr. predicts the same will happen this year if proceedings are delayed, according to an article in the National Law Journal.

I will follow this and other cases in federal court. If you have suggestions for coverage, please email me at