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Governance & the Judicial Conference

Governance of the Judiciary occurs at both a national and regional level.

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Judicial Conference of the United States

At the national level, the Judicial Conference serves as the policymaking body for the federal courts. It convenes twice a year to consider administrative and policy issues affecting the federal court system, and to make recommendations to Congress concerning legislation involving the Judicial Branch.

Roles and Terms

By statute the Judicial Conference:   

  • Comprehensively surveys the condition of business in the courts of the United States;
  • Submits suggestions to the various courts to promote uniform management procedures and the expeditious conduct of court business;
  • Exercises authority provided in the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act (28 U.S.C. §§ 351-64) to review circuit council judicial conduct and disability orders.
  • Continuously studies 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.
  • Acts in a variety of other areas dealing with court administration.

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 federal courts under 28 U.S.C. § 604.

Learn more about the operational structure of the Judicial Conference, including current membership, and read reports of the Judicial Conference proceedings. 

Circuit Judicial Councils

At the regional level, the circuit judicial council in each geographic circuit oversees the administration of courts located in that circuit. See 28 U.S.C. § 332.

Roles and Terms

Each circuit’s chief judge serves as chair of the judicial council in their circuit. An equal number of additional circuit and district judges comprise each judicial council. Each judicial council shall make all necessary and appropriate orders for the effective and expeditious administration of justice within its circuit.

Judicial councils are intended to:

  • Oversee certain aspects of appeals and district court operations;
  • Review local court rules for consistency with national rules of procedure;
  • Approve district court plans on topics such as equal employment opportunity and jury selection;
  • Review complaints of judicial misconduct.

Learn about additional elements of judicial administration.