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Virginia dodges federal court closings

No Virginia facilities are included in a list of money-saving court closings announced Tuesday by federal court officials.

The list of six planned closings is good news for users of the federal courts in Big Stone Gap and Newport News. Those two facilities, both without resident judges, had been studied for possible closing.

The closest court closings to Virginia are in Wilkesboro, NC, and Pikeville, KY. The Wilkesboro facility is to be shuttered when renovations are finished at the Statesville federal courthouse. In Pikeville, the courts are giving up leased space for a bankruptcy courtroom and chamber.

The closing of the six facilities is expected to save about $1 million a year in rent costs for the federal judiciary. The federal courts hope to save an equal amount by no longer printing and mailing slip opinions from the courts of appeals .

The moves are part of a 8-year, on-going cost cutting effort by the federal judiciary.

Judge Julia Gibbons, budget committee chair, said the biggest threat to the federal court budget is a package of automatic cuts coming in January if Congress fails to adopt a deficit reduction plan. Gibbons said those so-called “sequestration” cuts would “cripple” the federal courts with a reduction of more than $500 million.

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