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The Law Clerk Handbook provides an overview of law clerk responsibilities, chambers operations, and the work of the federal courts. Potential and current law clerks, as well as their colleagues, will find helpful information on conduct, ethics, types of federal court litigation, chambers and case management, court governance and administration, legal research and writing, and resources for additional information on these topics.

The PDF of the Law Clerk Handbook is available below. Requests for the print version will be filled when it becomes available. 

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The Resource Guide for Chief Circuit Judges’ Deskbooks describes the roles of the chief circuit judge, the leader of administrative operations for the court of appeals, and the circuit as a whole. The guide outlines the chief circuit judge’s key responsibilities, including the duties that Congress, the Judicial Conference of the United States, and the director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts have assigned or delegated to these judges. Also included is a discussion of the role chief circuit judges play in fostering judicial wellness and collegiality and in promoting an exemplary workplace. Circuit-specific policies and practices are not included, so that the guide can serve as a template for circuits to supplement with their local rules and policies.

In Print: Available for Distribution

This handbook provides an overview of chambers operations and the work of the federal courts.

The revised third edition contains updates to § 2.2 of the handbook, which include clarifying language regarding workplace harassment.

Superseded by Law Clerk Handbook: A Handbook for Law Clerks to Federal Judges, Fourth Edition (2020).

In Print: Available for Distribution

This guide on the use of distance participation (DP) technology to conduct bankruptcy hear­ings and trials provides an overview of general considerations, ranging from philo­sophical to practical, and then examines separately the use of the teleconferencing and videoconferencing. Each district, and indeed each judge, must decide whether to use DP technology, and if so, how to use it. The goals of this guide are to aid in making those decisions, and to encourage the use of DP technology so as to promote access to the courts, make the best use of existing judicial re­sources, and contain costs while maintaining the quality of court pro­ceedings and compliance with the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Proce­dure, the Federal Rules of Evidence, and other legal authority. Its suggestions are based on the varied experiences of bankruptcy judges and clerks of court around the country.

This guide was prepared at the request of the Judicial Conference of the United States Committee on the Admin­istration of the Bankruptcy System. The guide builds on a 2005 FJC Roundtable and Report and reflects technological ad­vances and the courts’ increased ex­perience with DP technology.

PDFs of the guide and appendices are below. Appendix B: Sample Case-Management Orders is a separate webpage.

In Print: Available for Distribution

Municipalities facing fiscal crisis often must make difficult choices, attempting to balance their financial obligations with obligations to deliver critical services, such as the provision of public safety, education, and health, as well as water, sewer, and transportation services. The primary objectives of Chapter 9—to provide a breathing spell to, and adjust the debts of, a distressed municipality—are familiar to bankruptcy professionals. The substance and process of Chapter 9, however, differ from other plan chapters under the Bankruptcy Code in meaningful ways. These differences, the unique circumstances of each Chapter 9 case, and the dearth of statutory and case-law guidance—all against Tenth Amendment considerations—can make navigating a Chapter 9 case challenging for all parties, including the judge and the clerk of court.

In June 2016, the Judicial Conference Committee on the Administration of the Bankruptcy System determined that additional resources could help courts handling Chapter 9 cases and asked the Federal Judicial Center to develop this manual. In September 2016, a working group of judges, clerks of court, attorneys, financial professionals, and academics with Chapter 9 experience assembled at the Federal Judicial Center to talk about what information would be most helpful to the courts. This manual pools the knowledge of those Chapter 9 experts to provide a clearer path for all judges and clerks of court in handling large and small Chapter 9 cases that may be filed by a variety of debtors: cities, townships, and counties; medical-related entities, such as county hospitals and authorities; and political subdivisions, such as sanitary and improvement districts, water districts, and off-track betting authorities.

The manual is accompanied by an online repository of Chapter 9 reference materials.

Available Online Only

The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA), Pub. L. No. 114-153, became law on May 11, 2016. It amends 18 U.S.C. § 1836 to create a private right of action for the misappropriation of trade secrets “for which any act occurs on or after the date of the enactment” and where the trade secrets “[are] related to [] product[s] or service[s] used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce.”  The DTSA directs that, not later than two years after the date of enactment of the Act, the Federal Judicial Center, "using existing resources, shall develop recommended best practices for (1) the seizure of information and media storing the information; and (2) the securing of the information and media once seized."

These trade secret seizure best practices were developed in response to the DTSA’s mandate and are based on the limited initial experience in the federal courts with 18 U.S.C. § 1836(b)(2). They are being circulated prior to the due date of May 11, 2018, so that courts can benefit from having early guidance on the subject matter. The Center will update these best practices as needed.

Archival Copy on File

This handbook provides an overview of chambers operations and the work of the federal courts.

§ 2.2 of the handbook was revised in December 2017 to include clarifying language regarding workplace harassment (see printable insert pages below).

Superseded by Law Clerk Handbook: A Handbook for Law Clerks to Federal Judges, Revised Third Edition (2017).

Available Online Only

Note: Distribution of this publication (hard copy) is restricted per © 2016 Peter S. Menell, Lynn H. Pasahow, James Pooley, Matthew D. Powers, Steven C. Carlson, Jeffrey G. Homrig, George F. Pappas, Carolyn Chang, Colette Reiner Mayer, Marc David Peters; permission has been granted for judiciary distribution only.

This is a comprehensive, user-friendly, and practical judicial guide for managing patent cases. Unlike conventional law treatises, it is organized around the  stages of patent litigation. Although similar in many respects to other forms of complex civil litigation, patent cases pose distinctive case-management challenges, including complex and dynamic technological facts to a degree rarely encountered in most other areas of litigation, parallel proceedings (with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, the International Trade Commission, and foreign courts), and unique procedures (such as claim-construction hearings) that affect and interact with other aspects of the case (such as summary judgment motions and expert reports). In addition, patent cases often entail distinctive and difficult discovery issues, extensive use of experts, and particularly complex dispositive and pretrial motion practice. The authors have worked extensively with experienced federal judges and practitioners to survey the range of practices for these and other aspects of patent case management. The volume contains case-management checklists for the various stages of a patent case, draft orders, and model rules and jury instructions. The final chapters provide primers on substantive patent law.

Print copies of The Patent Case Management Judicial Guide, Third Edition are available from Clause 8 Publishing. The Guide is also available through Lexis.

In Print: Available for Distribution

This manual provides a practical guide to steps that courts can take before and during litigation to manage nonprisoner pro se litigation more efficiently, steps that may also help pro se litigants better navigate the complexities of federal civil litigation. Part I discusses the concept of procedural fairness and the goal of increasing access to justice; it also addresses some of the potential ethical concerns about providing assistance to pro se litigants. Part II examines specific case-management techniques that federal courts have applied or that have been recommended as potentially useful in pro se cases. Part III provides a more in-depth look at many of the legal issues that can arise during pro se litigation, focusing on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence, and case law, in order to give judges a better understanding of the scope of their authority and discretion in pro se matters.

In Print: Available for Distribution

Cases involving national security often pose unusual and challenging case-management issues for the courts. Evidence or arguments may be classified; witnesses or the jury may require special security measures; attorneys’ contacts with their clients may be diminished; other challenges may present themselves.

The purpose of this Federal Judicial Center resource is to document methods federal judges have employed to meet these challenges so that judges facing the challenges can learn from their colleagues’ experiences. Included are terrorism prosecutions, espionage prosecutions, other criminal cases, the Guantánamo Bay habeas corpus cases, and other civil cases. This edition adds an addendum chapter on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act litigation. The information presented is based on a review of case files and news media accounts and on interviews with the judges. (Research date: April 24, 2015)

Lessons learned from these case studies are summarized in a companion publication, National Security Case Management: An Annotated Guide


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