Bloomberg Law
Sept. 17, 2020, 7:56 PMUpdated: Sept. 17, 2020, 9:28 PM

Federal Judiciary Phones Out Nationwide, Cases Unaffected (2)

Madison Alder
Madison Alder

The U.S. federal courts’ phone system went down Thursday, but the outage isn’t affecting operations, according to two court administrators.

The problem began Thursday morning in the national telephone system shared by trial and appeals courts that is supported by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, said Elizabeth Paret, circuit executive for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“It is a national problem affecting all federal courts,” Paret said.

She added that “Most people seem to communicate by email or Zoom for government, so the loss of telephones does not seem to be causing significant problems right now.”

Susan Goldberg, circuit executive for the First Circuit, similarly said the Boston-based court has “not experienced any impact to operations at this time.”

One court, however, hasn’t been affected. The U.S. Supreme Court didn’t experience any issues, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

An Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts spokesperson said the judiciary is working with the vendor to resolve the problem and the cause of the outage wasn’t immediately clear.

The outage isn’t affecting the ability to connect to proceedings since those go through separate independent phone lines, the AO spokesperson said.

Katherine Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit, said the impact of the disruption is unknown “because we have no knowledge of who is trying to reach us by phone.”

But operations adopted during the pandemic might help mitigate issues, she said. The court recently shifted phone traffic to email while court staff is working remotely, “so we do not expect this is having as large an impact as it might have had before then,” Rodriguez said.

(Updates with responses from Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at; John Crawley at