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Judicial Administration

Individual Courts

Day-to-day responsibility for judicial administration rests with each individual court. By statute and administrative practice, each court appoints support staff, supervises spending, and manages court records.  

The chief judge of each court oversees day-to-day court administration, while important policy decisions are made by judges of a court working together. The clerk of court is the executive hired by the judges of the court to carry out the court’s administrative functions. The clerk manages the court’s non-judicial functions according to policies set by the court and reports directly to the court through the chief judge. Among a clerk’s many functions are:

  • Maintaining court records and dockets
  • Managing court information technology systems
  • Paying all fees, fines, costs, and other monies collected into the U.S. Treasury
  • Administering the court’s jury system
  • Providing interpreters and court reporters
  • Sending official court notices and summonses
  • Providing courtroom support services

Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

The Administrative Office is the agency within the judicial branch that provides a broad range of legislative, legal, financial, technology, management, administrative, and program support services to federal courts. Judicial Conference committees, with court input, advise the Administrative Office as it develops the annual judiciary budget for approval by Congress and the President. The Administrative Office is responsible for carrying out Judicial Conference policies. A primary responsibility of the Administrative Office is to provide staff support and counsel to the Judicial Conference and its committees. 

Federal Judicial Center

The Federal Judicial Center provides training and research for the federal judiciary. The FJC develops orientation and continuing education programs for judges and other court personnel. It also studies judiciary operations and recommends to the Judicial Conference how to improve the management and administration of the federal courts. FJC operations are overseen by a board of directors whose members are the Chief Justice, the director of the Administrative Office, and seven judges chosen by the Judicial Conference.

Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation

This Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has authority to transfer cases to a single district court, when cases in more than one court address similar questions. Examples are mass tort actions arising from airplane crashes, breast implants, or asbestos. Seven court of appeals and district court judges named by the Chief Justice make up the panel.

United States Sentencing Commission

The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) establishes sentencing guidelines for the federal criminal justice system. It monitors sentencing recommendations by probation officers and operates an information center on sentencing practices. Sentencing Commission members are a chair, three vice chairs, and three other voting commissioners, appointed by the President to six-year terms.

Administrative Oversight and Accountability

Oversight mechanisms work together to hold judges and judiciary staff responsible for their conduct as government officials and for the management of public resources.

Learn more about how this works within the federal judiciary.