October 30, 2012 3:56 PM
WASHINGTON - With Hurricane Sandy still making its way out of the Washington region on Tuesday, many area workers stayed home for a second day. But the work of D.C. lawyers and policymakers hasn't ceased.
U.S. Justice Department headquarters in Washington are "open and operational," DOJ spokeswoman Gina Talamona said. As for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, it is "mostly closed," office spokesman William Miller wrote in an email. He wrote that some prosecutors and support staff are working today to handle presentments, arraignments and other matters concerning the District of Columbia Superior Court.
Superior Court plans to resume some of its operations on Tuesday. At 2 p.m., it will start holding adult arraignments and juvenile new referrals. But U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit are closed. At the U.S. Supreme Court, arguments that were scheduled for Tuesday have been moved to Thursday.
Many U.S. government lawyers and other federal employees decided to work remotely today.
According to the Office of Personnel Management, workers who are scheduled to "telework" or who are "required to perform unscheduled telework on a day when Federal offices are closed to the public," must work from home.
About 170,000 employees at 87 agencies telework at least part of the time, according to a report by the Office of Personnel Management submitted to Congress in 2012. But some agencies are clearly more receptive to the program than others.
At the bottom of the list: the Justice Department, where according to the report, just 2 percent of employees - 2,575 people - teleworked as of September 2011.
By contrast, one of the most enthusiastic embracers of teleworking is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where more than 6,500 employees, or two-thirds of it staffers, work from home at least one day a week. At the Federal Communications Commission, fittingly, 55 percent of employees telework some of the time, and at the Securities and Exchange Commission, 1,217 workers, or 32 percent, telework.
Given the pre-election timing of the storm, it's also fortunate that 49 percent of employees at the Federal Election Commission telework.
At area law firms, many lawyers also are working remotely today. And difficulties with teleworking appear to be at a minimum.
“[B]ased on the email traffic yesterday, I'd say most people had no trouble working from home!” Paul Kiernan, executive partner of Holland & Knight’s D.C. office, said in a written statement.
Of course, teleworking is only possible with electricity. As of 1:30 p.m. according to The Washington Post, 115,681 electric utility customers were still without power in the Washington area.
(Source: Blog of Legal Times)