Administrative Office of the United States Courts



The Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) is the administrative agency of the United States federal court system, established in 1939. The central support entity for the federal judicial branch, the AO provides a wide range of legislative ( legislative assistance), administrative,
legal Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. ...
financial Finance is the study and discipline of money, currency and capital assets. It is related to, but not synonymous with economics, the study of Production (economics), production, Distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics) ...
management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization, whether it is a business, a nonprofit organization, or a government body. It is the art and science of managing resources of the business. Management includes the activities ...
, program ( program evaluation), and
information technology Information technology (IT) is the use of computers to create, process, store, retrieve, and exchange all kinds of Data (computing), data . and information. IT forms part of information and communications technology (ICT). An information te ...
support services to the federal courts. It is directly supervised by the Judicial Conference of the United States, the body that sets the national and legislative policy of the federal judiciary and is composed of the Chief Justice, chief judge of each
court of appeals A court of appeals, also called a court of appeal, appellate court, appeal court, court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In much of t ...
, a district court judge from each regional judicial circuit, and the chief judge of the United States Court of International Trade. The AO implements and executes Judicial Conference policies, as well as applicable federal statutes and regulations. The Office facilitates communications within the judiciary and with
Congress A congress is a formal meeting of the Representative democracy, representatives of different countries, constituent states, organizations, trade unions, political party, political parties, or other groups. The term originated in Late Middle Eng ...
, the
executive branch The Executive, also referred as the Executive branch or Executive power, is the term commonly used to describe that part of government which enforces the law, and has overall responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. In poli ...
, and the public on behalf of the
judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of courts that adjudication, adjudicates legal disputes/disagreements and interprets, defends, and app ...


The mission of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) is to provide a variety of support functions to the United States federal judiciary. The AO prepares and submits the budget for the courts to the Judicial Conference for approval by Congress. It analyzes legislation from Congress that will affect the courts' operations or personnel, and it interprets and applies the new laws. It also provides administrative help to members of the courts in the form of
clerk A clerk is a white-collar worker who conducts general office tasks, or a worker who performs similar sales-related tasks in a retail environment. The responsibilities of clerical workers commonly include record keeping, filing, staffing service c ...
s, probation and pretrial services officers,
court reporter A court reporter, court stenographer, or shorthand reporter is a person whose occupation is to capture the live testimony in proceedings using a stenographic machine, thereby transforming the proceedings into an official certified transcript ...
s, and
public defender A public defender is a lawyer A lawyer is a person who practices law. The role of a lawyer varies greatly across different legal jurisdictions. A lawyer can be classified as an advocate, attorney, barrister A barrister is a type of law ...
s. It also works together with the
General Services Administration The General Services Administration (GSA) is an Independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the United States government established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. G ...
to develop and operate suitable accommodations for federal courts, either in federal buildings or in standalone federal
courthouse A courthouse or court house is a building that is home to a local court of law and often the regional county government as well, although this is not the case in some larger cities. The term is common in North America. In most other English-spe ...


The director of the AO (currently Roslynn R. Mauskopf) serves as Secretary of the Judicial Conference and is appointed, along with the deputy director (currently Lee Ann Bennett), by the Chief Justice of the United States. The AO includes an Office of the General Counsel, Office of Judicial Conference Executive Secretariat, Office of Public Affairs, Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of Judges Programs, Office of Court Administration, Office of Human Resources, Office of Finance and Budget, Office of Facilities and Security, Office of Defender Services, U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System, Office of Information Technology, and an Office of Internal Services.


The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts was established by an act of Congress on November 6, 1939. With the establishment of the Administrative Office and the circuit judicial councils, Congress for the first time provided the judiciary with budgetary and personnel management agencies that were independent of the executive branch of government. For 150 years, administrative responsibility for the federal courts shifted from the Treasury Department to the Interior Department in 1849 and to the Justice Department in 1870. (The Conference of Senior Circuit Judges, established in 1922, was an advisory body.) By the late 1930s, a coalition of judges, lawyers, academics, and Justice Department officials agreed that the efficient administration of justice, as well as the principle of judicial independence, required a separate agency with officers appointed by and responsible to a body of judges. By the early-twentieth century, some judges expressed concern that the Justice Department's administrative oversight of the courts was ineffective and, more importantly, posed the threat of interference with the judicial process. Reform proposals ranged from separate appropriation bills for the courts to the authorization of senior circuit judges as administrators for all the courts within their respective circuits. Some circuits established conferences of judges to discuss problems of case management and court administration. The Roosevelt administration's Judicial Reorganization Bill of 1937, best known for its provision to enlarge the
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of ju ...
, included provision for appointment of a proctor who would gather data on the business of the courts and make recommendations for reassignment of judges and improved case management. Many district court judges resisted this centralization of authority over individual courts that had operated with so much autonomy for a century and a half, but there was widespread support for some reform that would facilitate judicial business and eliminate the Justice Department's role in the daily operations of the federal courts. After the defeat of Roosevelt's " court-packing" plan, Chief Justice
Charles Evans Hughes Charles Evans Hughes Sr. (April 11, 1862 – August 27, 1948) was an American statesman, politician and jurist who served as the 11th Chief Justice of the United States from 1930 to 1941. A member of the Republican Party (United States), Republi ...
responded to suggestions for less sweeping administrative changes. He appointed members of the Conference of Senior Circuit Judges to work with representatives of the
American Bar Association The American Bar Association (ABA) is a voluntary association, voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. Founded in 1878, the ABA's most important stated activities ar ...
and Justice Department officials to draft legislation that would improve the efficiency of the courts at the same time that it respected the decentralized character of the federal judicial system. The committee's proposed that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts would collect information on the caseload of the courts, prepare the annual budget request for the courts and disburse funds appropriated to the judiciary, and offer administrative assistance to the courts. The act authorized the Supreme Court to select the director of the Administrative Office, but, at the insistence of Chief Justice Hughes, the office was to operate under the supervision of the Conference of Senior Circuit Judges rather than the Court. The committee proposal found broad support in both the Senate and House of Representatives, which considered several versions before passage in August 1939. The act established circuit judicial councils through which the courts of appeals judges would review the caseload reports of the Administrative Office and instruct district judges on what was necessary to expedite the courts' business. It also mandated annual circuit conferences at which circuit and district judges would meet with members of the bar to discuss judicial administration.

Directors of the Administrative Office

In preparation for the planned retirement of Director James C. Duff on January 31, 2021, Chief Justice
John Roberts John Glover Roberts Jr. (born January 27, 1955) is an American lawyer and jurist who has served as the 17th Chief Justice of the United States, chief justice of the United States since 2005. Roberts has authored the majority opinion in sever ...
, on January 5, 2021, appointed Eastern District of NY Chief Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf to be the next Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts effective February 1, 2021.

Past directors

* Henry P. Chandler, 1939–1956 *Warren Olney III, 1958–1967 *Ernest C. Friesen, 1968–1970 *Rowland F. Kirks, 1970–1977 *William E. Foley, 1977–1985 * Leonidas Ralph Mecham, 1985–2006 * James C. Duff, 2006–2011 * Thomas F. Hogan, 2011–2013 * John D. Bates, 2013–2015Directors of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
Federal Judicial Center
*James C. Duff, 2015–2021

See also

* Judicial council (United States) * California Administrative Office of the Courts


Further reading

* *

External links

Administrative Office of the United States Courts

Administrative Office of the United States Courts
in the
Federal Register The ''Federal Register'' (FR or sometimes Fed. Reg.) is the government gazette, official journal of the federal government of the United States that contains government agency rules, proposed rules, and public notices. It is published every week ...

Judicial Conference of the United States
in the Federal Register {{DEFAULTSORT:Administrative Office Of The United States Courts 1939 in American law Federal judiciary of the United States Government agencies established in 1939 Court administration 1939 establishments in Washington, D.C.