Agencies within the federal judiciary


There are five agencies that are within the United States judicial branch. These agencies are the Federal Judicial Center, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Judicial Conference of the United States, the United States Sentencing Commission and the Judicial Panel on Mutlidistrict Litigation. These five agencies all serve to uphold current laws and to help create new laws throughout the country.

The Federal Judicial Center

The Federal Judicial Center (FJC) was created in 1967 by Congress as the research and education agency of federal judicial administration. This education specific agency develops orientation programs and continuing education programs for court personnel, including judges. On top of developing these programs, the FJC also recommends how to improve management and administration of the federal courts to the Judicial Conference. All of the FJC operations are managed by a board of directors, which is headed by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

The Judicial Conference

The Judicial Conference not only takes recommendations from the Federal Judicial Center on management and administration, but serves as the national policy-making body for the federal court system. The Chief Justice of the United States is once again the head of an agency. Along with the Chief Justice, this agency is composed of the chief judges of each circuit, a district judge from each regional circuit, and the Chief Judge of the Court of International Trade. The Conference operates through a network of committees to address and advice on a wide variety of subjects. These subjects can range from information technology and all the way to rules of practice and procedure.

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts

This agency within the judicial branch provides a wide spectrum of legislative, financial, technology, administrative, legal, management and program support services to the federal courts. The primary responsibility of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts is to administer staff counsel and support to the Judicial Conference. This agency is also in charge of carrying out the policies that the Judicial Conference formulates from the input brought to them by the Federal Judicial Center.

The Administrative Office is headed by a director that has been appointed by the Chief Justice. This director also serves as Secretary to the Judicial Conference and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Judicial Center.

The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC)

This agency establishes guidelines for the criminal justice system at the federal level. It also advises and assists Congress and the executive branch in the development of crime policies. Lastly, this agency works to collect, analyze, research and distribute their findings on a broad spectrum of information on federal crime and sentencing issues.

The USSC is independent agency with seven voting members that are appointed by the President and then confirmed by the Senate. At least three of the voting members must be federal judges, but no more than four may belong to the same political party.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation

Created by an act of Congress in 1968, this panel was formed to conserve resources of parties, their counsel and the judiciary through the means of transferring or centralizing the proceedings of similar civil actions to a sole federal district for pre-trial. This centralization of proceedings is to prevent inconsistent pre-trial rulings and duplications of discovery. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation also selects the judge and assign the court that will be conducting such proceedings. The chief justice appoints seven judges that must all be currently sitting federal judges.

Working together

All of these agencies work together to continue the advancement of the federal judiciary in an efficient and effective manner. The Federal Judicial Center works to research and create new continuing education opportunities for court personnel, as well as makes recommendations on how to improve management and administrative procedures for federal courts. The Judicial Conference takes the Federal Judicial Center’s recommendations and transforms them into new policies and procedures. The Administrative Office makes the policies and procedures that the Judicial Conference has just written into law and makes sure that they are carried out in an effective and efficient manner. The USSC works closely with all agencies to make sure that the established guidelines for the criminal justice system at the federal level are being carried out and that their findings are distributed to the executive branch. The Judicial Panel on Mutlidistrict Litigation works with these other agencies to make sure that resources are being used wisely and that there is no duplication of discovery and inconsistent pre-trial rulings through the process of centralizing civil actions that are pending in different districts to a single district by selecting the court and judge to be assigned to the case. Each agency plays a critical role in creating the judicial system we know today.


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