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Governance & the Judicial Conference

Judicial Conference

The Judicial Conference of the United States is the national policy-making body for the federal courts. The current name took effect when Congress enacted Section 331 of Title 28 of the United States Code. Before that, the body was known as the Conference of Senior Circuit Judges from its creation in 1922.

The statute says the Judicial Conference will:   

  • Comprehensively survey business conditions in the courts of the United States;
  • Plan assignments of judges to or from courts of appeals or district courts, where necessary;
  • Submit suggestions to the various courts that promote uniform management procedures and the expeditious conduct of court business;
  • Exercise authority provided in chapter 16 of title 28 United States Codes for the review of circuit council conduct and disability orders filed under that chapter; and
  • Continuously study the operation and effect of the general rules of practice and procedure in the federal courts, as prescribed by the Supreme Court pursuant to law.

The Judicial Conference also supervises the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in the Director’s role as the administrative officer of the courts of the United States under 28 U.S.C. § 604. In addition, certain statutes authorize the Judicial Conference to act in a variety of specific areas dealing with the administration of the courts.

Learn more about how the Judicial Conference is organized, membership, and read reports of the Judicial Conference proceedings. 

Circuit Judicial Councils

At the regional level, a circuit judicial council in each geographic circuit oversees the administration of courts located in that circuit. The chief circuit judge serves as chair, while an equal number of other circuit and district judges comprise the judicial council.

Judicial councils oversee certain aspects of appeals and district court operations. The council has broad authority with a statutory authorization to issue orders to promote accountability and “the effective and expeditious administration of justice within its circuit.” The Judicial Council also reviews local court rules for consistency with national rules of procedure. It approves district court plans on topics such as equal employment opportunity and jury selection, and reviewing complaints of judicial misconduct. Each judicial council appoints a circuit executive who works closely with the chief circuit judge to coordinate a wide range of administrative matters in the circuit.