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In Profile: The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts – Annual Report 2017

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

Statutory Authority

28 U.S.C. §§ 601-612. Congress established the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) in 1939 to provide administrative support to federal courts.

The director of the AO carries out statutory responsibilities and performs other duties under the supervision and direction of the principal policy-making body of the Judiciary, the Judicial Conference of the United States.


All responsibility for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts is vested in the director, who is the chief administrative officer for the federal courts. Under his or her direction, the agency carries out the following functions:

The AO in Brief

Office of the Director

James C. Duff, Director, July 2006 – September 2011, January 2015 – present
Serves as the chief executive.

Office of the Deputy Director

Lee Ann Bennett, Deputy Director
Chief advisor to the director on day-to-day management, strategic and tactical planning, and operational matters. Ensures that activities of all agency elements are functioning in support of stated management goals.

Department of Program Services

Mary Louise Mitterhoff, Associate Director
Responsible for providing a wide array of programs, services, and support to federal judges, clerks of court, probation and pretrial services officers, federal public defenders, CJA panel attorneys, and their staffs. Develops and maintains computer applications, including case-management systems, to satisfy program requirements. Ensures that data, analysis, and reporting functions meet the needs of the Judiciary.

Department of Administrative Services

James R. Baugher, Associate Director
Responsible for the Judiciary’s budget, accounting, and procurement functions; human resources functions; space and facilities programs, including courthouse design and technology coordination; and long-range facilities planning and court security. Develops and supports automated administrative systems and services for the AO and the Judiciary, including solutions and support for financial management, personnel and payroll processing, and data integration.

Department of Technology Services

Joseph R. Peters Jr., Associate Director
Responsible for the Judiciary’s information technology systems support and deployment, infrastructure management, cloud technology and hosting, IT solutions, and security, as well as the AO technology office. Plans and coordinates national IT policy, standards, architecture, training, and security for the Judiciary.

General Counsel

Sheryl L. Walter, General Counsel
Provides legal counsel and services to the director and staff of the Administrative Office and to the Judicial Conference; responds to legal inquiries from judges and other court officials regarding court operations; represents the AO in bid protests and other administrative litigation; and coordinates and supports federal rules of practice and procedure. The Office of the General Counsel also supports the Judicial Conference committees involved with issues related to judicial ethics, including the filing of financial disclosure reports from judges and Judiciary employees, responding to inquiries from judges and judicial employees about the application and interpretation of the Codes of Conduct, and supporting administration of the judicial misconduct and disability process.

Judicial Conference Secretariat

Katherine Hord Simon, Judicial Conference Secretariat Officer
Coordinates the agency’s performance of the staff functions required by the Judicial Conference and its committees; maintains the official records of the Judicial Conference; responds to judges and other court personnel regarding Conference activities; and coordinates the advisory group process.

Legislative Affairs

Cordia A. Strom, Legislative Affairs Officer
Provides legislative counsel and services to the Judiciary; maintains liaison with the legislative branch; manages the coordination of matters affecting the Judiciary with the states, legal entities, and other organizations; develops and produces judicial impact statements.

Public Affairs

David A. Sellers, Public Affairs Officer
Carries out public information, community outreach, and communications programs for the federal Judiciary and manages media relations and web and video production services for the Administrative Office.