The resources below include information about the United States legal system as well as more general references related to court administration, judicial independence, ethics, and associations of judges. This is not intended as an exhaustive list of materials in this field and the Federal Judicial Center does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites.
United States Legal System
New Judge's Introduction to Federal Judicial Administration (2003)
American Bar Association Division for Public Education
The mission of the ABA Division for Public Education is to promote public understanding of law and its role in U.S. society. This website includes information about "How Courts Work" as well as talking points on judicial independence.
the Federal Judicial System, Third Edition (FJC, 2005) 30 pages
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs publishes five electronic journals about the United States, including information about the U.S. judiciary. Arabic, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish translations of many of these journals are posted.
Federal Courts and What They Do (FJC, 1997) 30 pages
Inside the Federal Courts (FJC on-line tutorial about the U.S. judicial system)
and Court Staff in the United States Judiciary (2004) 10 pages
Outline of the U.S. Legal System
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs publishes this outline, which covers the history and organization of the federal and state judicial systems; the criminal and civil court processes; the background, qualifications, and selection of federal judges; the role of other participants (lawyers, defendants, interest groups) in the judicial process; and the implementation and impact of judicial policies.
The Federal Court System in the United States: An Introduction for Judges and Judicial Administrators in Other
Countries (this publication is available on the U.S. courts website in English, French, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.)
United States Sentencing Commission
The United States Sentencing Commission is an independent agency in the judicial branch of government. Its principal purposes are: (1) to establish sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts, including guidelines to be consulted regarding the appropriate form and severity of punishment for offenders convicted of federal crimes; (2) to advise and assist Congress and the executive branch in the development of effective and efficient crime policy; and (3) to collect, analyze, research, and distribute a broad array of information on federal crime and sentencing issues, serving as an information resource for Congress, the executive branch, the courts, criminal justice practitioners, the academic community, and the public.
The U.S. Courts website is maintained by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on behalf of the federal judiciary. The Administrative Office is the federal judiciary's central support agency responsible for providing a broad range of management, legal, technical, communications, and other support services for the administration of the federal courts. Included on this site is Understanding the Federal Courts, a publication developed to provide an introduction to the federal judicial system, its organization and administration, and its relationship to the legislative and executive branches of the government.
Judicial Conduct and Discipline
American Judicature Society Center for Judicial Ethics
The Center for Judicial Ethics of the American Judicature Society acts as a clearinghouse for information about judicial ethics and discipline.
Code of Conduct for United States Judges, and Codes of Conduct for Judicial Employees
The codes of conduct that apply to the U.S. federal courts are available on the U.S. Courts website, which is maintained by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on behalf of the federal judiciary.
Strengthening Integrity of the Judiciary, United Nations
This United Nations website includes the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct.
American Bar Association Standing Committee on Judicial Independence
Standing Committee on Judicial Independence serves as the ABA's clearinghouse for information and resources designed to protect the independence of the judiciary, improve public understanding of, and confidence in, the judiciary, and promote the importance of an accountable, efficient and effective judicial system.
American Judicature Society
The American Judicature Society (AJS) works to maintain the independence and integrity of the courts and increase public understanding of the justice system. It is a nonpartisan organization with a national membership of judges, lawyers and other citizens interested in the administration of justice.
Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Beijing Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary in the LAWASIA Region
Drafted in 1997 -- and eventually signed by more than 32 Chief Justices within the Asia/Pacific region -- this statement of principles represents an attempt by signatories to set aside differences in legal traditions in order to articulate the minimum standards believed necessary to maintain independent and effective judiciaries.
Produced by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), this Practitioner's Guide offers practical insight on the international principles governing the independence and accountability of judges, lawyers, and prosecutors. It also presents the most relevant and current international standards on the topic.
Judicial Independence in the United States (2001) 15 pages
Independence Talking Points (FJC History Office)
United States Department of State: International Information Programs
The Freedom Papers is a series of seven papers that provide practical information, case studies, and sources of information on issues of democracy-building, including an independent judiciary.
Charter of the Judge
Drafted by judges from around the world, and unanimously approved by the Central Council of the International Association of Judges, the Charter outlines the minimal norms and expectations needed for the maintenance of judicial independence.
USAID Office of Democracy and Governance: Guidance for Promoting Judicial Independence and Impartiality (pdf)
The Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) seeks to provide a national forum to assist state court administrators in the development of a more just, effective, and efficient system of justice. It accomplishes this goal by identifying issues relating to the administration of judicial systems, providing a network for the exchange of information, and assisting in the formulation of national policies that impact state courts.
International Association for Court Administration
The International Association for Court Administration promotes professional court administration and management in emerging democracies and other countries pursuing the rule of law.
for Court Management
NACM is an organization of court management professionals dedicated to the improvement of courts and the development of court managers
National Center for State Courts
The mission of National Center for State Courts (NCSC) is to improve the administration of justice through leadership and service to state courts, and courts around the world.
for Justice Information and Statistics
Formed in 1969, the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics (SEARCH) has sought it identify and help solve the information management problems confronted by state and local justice agencies as their need to exchange information with each other has grown.
The Court Administrator (NACM, 1992)
The National Association for Court Management prepared this manual to provide a better understanding of court administration for judges and other interested parties. It describes the importance of professional court administration, the role of the court administrator, and the qualifications and resources needed for selecting court administrators.
Associations of Judges
Association of Judges
The European Association of Judges (EAJ) aims to represent the interests of European judges and magistrates, as well as strengthen the rule of law and judicial independence in all member European states.
The International Association of Judges was founded in Salzburg (Austria) in 1953 as a professional, non-political, international organization, grouping not individual judges, but national associations of judges. The main aim of the Association is to safeguard the independence of the judiciary, as an essential requirement of the judicial function and guarantee of human rights and freedom.
Association of Women Judges
The International Association of Women Judges is a non-profit organization that has united women judges from diverse legal-judicial systems who share a commitment to equal justice and the rule of law. Through judicial education programs and worldwide collaboration, the IAWJ is working to eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender, and make courts accessible to all.
International Judicial Relations Committee of the U.S.
The Committee on International Judicial Relations was established by the Judicial Conference of the U.S. in 1993 to respond to the enormous increase in demand from newly emerging democracies and developing countries for information about judicial independence, legal traditions, and effective court administration in the U.S. Toward this end, the mission of the Committee is to serve as a resource in the establishment and expansion of the rule of law and the administration of justice throughout the world. Download a PDF describing the work of the International Judicial Relations Committee.