Judicial Conference of the United States

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The Judicial Conference of the United States, formerly known as Conference of Senior Circuit Judges, was created by the United States Congress in 1922 with the principal objective of framing policy guidelines for administration of judicial courts in the United States. The Conference derives its authority from 28 U.S.C. § 331, which states it is headed by the Chief Justice of the United States and consists of the Chief Justice, the chief judge of each court of appeals, a district court judge from each regional judicial circuit, and the chief judge of the United States Court of International Trade.[1]

History[edit]

Responding to a backlog of cases in the federal courts, Congress enacted in 1922 a new form of court administration that advanced the institutionalization of an independent judiciary. The establishment of an annual Conference of Senior Circuit Judges, later to be known as the Judicial Conference of the United States, culminated more than a decade of public debate on the reform of judicial administration. The Conference of Senior Circuit Judges provided the first formal mechanism by which members of the federal judiciary might develop national administrative policies, reassign judges temporarily, and recommend legislation.

Chief Justice William Howard Taft, appointed to the Supreme Court in 1921, had led a public campaign for federal judicial reform since leaving the White House in 1913. Taft proposed the appointment of at-large judges, what he called a "flying squadron," that could be assigned temporarily to congested courts. In Taft's plan, a conference of judges would serve primarily to assess the caseload of the lower courts and assign the at-large judges to courts in need. Taft, supported by a group of federal judges and legal scholars, hoped that the establishment of a more efficient federal judiciary would deflect the efforts of Senator George W. Norris and others who advocated an end to life tenure on the federal bench and the restriction of the lower federal courts' jurisdiction.

By the time Taft became Chief Justice, the increased caseload resulting from World War I and the enforcement of Prohibition had contributed to broad support for reform of the federal judiciary. Assuming a role as leader of the judiciary as well as the Supreme Court, Taft joined with Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty and appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge legislation. A large majority in Congress agreed with the need for reform, but both the Senate and the House of Representatives insisted on revising Taft's proposals so that they conformed more closely to the traditions of the federal judiciary.

Congress established an annual conference of the Chief Justice of the United States (or the senior associate justice if the Chief is unable), and the senior circuit judge (now called the chief judge) from each judicial circuit and charged the conference with a general mandate to advise on the administrative needs of the federal courts. The act required the senior judge in each district to prepare an annual report of the business of the district's court. The conference would use these reports to prepare suggestions for the temporary transfer of judges, pending the approval of all courts involved. This expansion of the authority to transfer judges fell far short of Taft's concept of a permanent corps of at-large judges. Congress established 24 temporary judgeships, but adhered to the principle of fixed residency for district judges. Congress also declined to make the attorney general a member of the conference, although the act permitted the Chief Justice to request the attorney general to report on the business of the courts. Even without a formal relationship with Congress or the Department of Justice (which then administered the federal courts), the conference offered the judiciary a means of communicating its administrative needs.

The conference was renamed the Judicial Conference of the United States in 1948. In 1956, Congress provided for the inclusion of the chief judge of the Court of Claims. At that time, the judges of the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (CCPA) declined to include a representative on the conference. The size of the conference nearly doubled following an act of 1957 that provided for the appellate and district judges in each circuit to elect a district judge to represent the circuit on the conference for a term of three years. In 1961 the chief judge of the CCPA began serving on the conference. The chief judges of these Court of Claims and the CCPA served on the conference until 1982 when their courts merged to become the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In 1990, Congress provided for the inclusion of the chief judge of the United States Court of International Trade. In 1996, Congress expanded the district judge term up to five years and allowed senior district judges to serve.

Present tasks[edit]

Five standing Advisory Committees of the Judicial Conference have been established, and are charged, respectively, with drafting proposed amendments to the:

Members of the Advisory Committees include judges, representatives from the Department of Justice, law professors, and practicing attorneys. The Advisory Committees propose rules, subject them to public comment, and then submit them to the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, which in turn submits them to the Judicial Conference, which recommends them to the Supreme Court for approval. Explanatory notes of the drafting Advisory Committee are published along with the final adopted rules, and are frequently used as an authority on the interpretation of the rules.

Other active policy areas concern the operation of CM/ECF, the Case Management/Electronic Case Files system, and PACER, the electronic public access service for United States federal court documents.

Administrative Office of the United States Courts[edit]

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) is the administrative agency of the United States federal court system. The AO is the central support entity for the federal judicial branch. It provides a wide range of administrative, legal, financial, management, program, and information technology services to the federal courts. It was established in 1939.

The AO is directly supervised by the Judicial Conference, and implements and executes Judicial Conference policies, as well as applicable federal statutes and regulations. The AO facilitates communications within the judiciary and with Congress, the executive branch, and the public on behalf of the judiciary.

List of members[edit]

Current members[edit]

The membership as of September 2013 was:[2]

Name Title Court
John Roberts Chief Justice Supreme Court
Sandra Lynch Chief Judge First Circuit
Paul J. Barbadoro Judge District of New Hampshire
Robert A. Katzmann Chief Judge Second Circuit
Carol Bagley Amon Chief Judge Eastern District of New York
Theodore McKee Chief Judge Third Circuit
Joy Flowers Conti Chief Judge Western District of Pennsylvania
William B. Traxler, Jr. Chief Judge Fourth Circuit
Deborah K. Chasanow Chief Judge District of Maryland
Carl E. Stewart Chief Judge Fifth Circuit
Sarah S. Vance Chief Judge Eastern District of Louisiana
Alice M. Batchelder Chief Judge Sixth Circuit
Thomas A. Varlan Chief Judge Eastern District of Tennessee
Frank H. Easterbrook Chief Judge Seventh Circuit
Ruben Castillo Judge Northern District of Illinois
William J. Riley Chief Judge Eighth Circuit
Rodney W. Sippel Judge Eastern District of Missouri
Alex Kozinski Chief Judge Ninth Circuit
Robert S. Lasnik Judge Western District of Washington
Mary Beck Briscoe Chief Judge Tenth Circuit
Dee Benson Judge District of Utah
Ed Carnes Chief Judge Eleventh Circuit
W. Louis Sands Judge Middle District of Georgia
Merrick B. Garland Chief Judge District of Columbia Circuit
Richard W. Roberts Chief Judge District of Columbia
Randall R. Rader Chief Judge Federal Circuit
Donald C. Pogue Chief Judge Court of International Trade

All members[edit]

The following list of Judicial Conference service is organized by the circuits and courts represented. It was compiled largely from the Reports of the Proceedings of the Judicial Conference and is complete through the most recent meeting of the conference. The list contains the names of those judges who were members of the conference, but not those who may occasionally have attended in their absence. District Judges are identified by the district in which they served.[3]

Supreme Court of the United States

William Howard Taft, 1922 – 1929
Charles Evans Hughes, 1929 – 1941
Harlan Fiske Stone, 1941 – 1945
Frederick Moore Vinson, 1946 – 1953
Hugo Lafayette Black, 1953
Earl Warren, 1954 – 1969
Warren Earl Burger, 1969 – 1986
William H. Rehnquist, 1987 – 2005
John Paul Stevens, 2005
John G. Roberts, Jr., 2006 – present
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
First Circuit District Judges
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Second Circuit District judges
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Third Circuit District judges
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Fourth Circuit District judges
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Fifth Circuit District judges
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Sixth Circuit District judges
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Seventh Circuit District judges
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Eighth Circuit District judges
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Ninth Circuit District judges
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Tenth Circuit District judges
United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Eleventh Circuit District judges
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
D.C. Circuit District judges
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
United States Court of Federal Claims

(prior to merger of the appellate division into the Federal Circuit)

United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals

(prior to merger into the Federal Circuit)

United States Court of International Trade


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ United States Courts page on Judicial Conference membership.
  2. ^ Judicial Conference of the United States.
  3. ^ Material in this section is transcribed from the corresponding page on the website of the Federal Judicial Center, a publication of the United States federal government in the public domain.

External links[edit]