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Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building front
Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building

The Federal Judicial Center is the education and research agency of the United States federal courts. An Act of Congress (28 U.S.C. § 620: 629) started it in 1967. The idea for a center came from the Judicial Conference of the United States.

The Center main activities are:

  • orientation and continuing education and training for federal judges, court employees, and others;
  • recommendations about the operation and study of the federal courts; and
  • research on federal judicial procedures, court operations, and history.

The law sets who serves on the Center's Board of Directors. The Chief Justice of the United States is ex officio chair of the Center's board. The board also has the director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and seven judges elected by the Judicial Conference. The Board appoints the Center's director and deputy director; the director appoints the Center's staff. Since its founding in 1967, the Center has had ten directors. Judge Jeremy Fogel became director in 2011. He was appointed U.S. district judge for the Northern District of California in 1998 but has been resident in Washington, D.C., since becoming director. The deputy director is John S. Cooke.


Chief Justice Earl Warren and other members of the judiciary wanted a separate agency that would conduct research and educational programs for the federal courts. They hoped that a separate agency would build the judiciary’s institutional independence. They recommended starting the Federal Judicial center to Congress. They hoped that regular programs of research and education would improve the efficiency of the federal courts and relieve the backlog of cases in the lower courts.

The Center is governed by its own board. The Federal Judicial Center offered the courts the benefits of independent social science research and educational programs designed to improve judicial administration.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, the Judicial Conference and the Administrative Office increasingly commissioned research projects to examine problems of judicial administration at the same time that they organized educational programs to help judges manage growing and complicated caseloads. These research and educational programs, however, received no permanent staff or funding. Support for an institutionalized program of judicial research and education increased after adding 60 new district judge positions in 1961 showed that the number of judges alone would not solve all of the problems of overworked courts. Many judges and lawyers asked for a way to bring improved research and education to the courts.

The Center includes several offices and divisions.

Director's Office

The Director's Office is responsible for the Center's overall management and its relations with other organizations. Its Office of Systems Innovation and Development (OSID) provides technical support for Center education and research. Communications Policy and Design (CPD) edits, produces, and distributes all Center print and electronic publications, operates the Federal Judicial Television Network, and through the Information Services Office maintains a library of materials on judicial administration.

Research Division

The Research Division undertakes empirical and exploratory research on federal judicial processes, court management, and sentencing and its consequences, often at the request of the Judicial Conference and its committees, the courts themselves, or other groups in the federal system. James B. Eaglin is the current director of the research division.

Federal Judicial History Office

The Federal Judicial History Office develops programs relating to the history of the judicial branch and helps courts with their own judicial history programs.

Education Division

The Education Division holds educational sessions for federal judges and court staff. Bruce Clarke is the current director of the Education Division.

Interjudicial Affairs Office

The Interjudicial Affairs Office caries out the Center's statutory mission to provide information about federal courts to officials of foreign judicial systems and to acquire information about foreign judicial systems that will help the Center perform its other missions.

Board of the Center

The Center's board consists of:

  • John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States, chair.
  • Judge Susan H. Black, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • Judge David O. Carter, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • Magistrate Judge Karen Klein, U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota
  • Judge Loretta A. Preska, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Judge Philip Martin Pro, U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada
  • Judge Stephen Raslavich, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • Judge William B. Traxler Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and
  • James C. Duff, Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

A nonprofit organization, the Federal Judicial Center Foundation, solicits support for the Center.

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