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Federal and State Court Cooperation

State-Federal Judicial Councils

For more than fifty years, some states have used state-federal judicial councils as a forum for cooperation, allowing judges to discuss important issues in an organized way and providing opportunities for judges to air diverse views and seek consensus to more effectively promote the administration of justice. Formal state-federal judicial councils also allow state and federal courts to develop joint strategies for addressing complicated problems and for planning activities, including civics education programs.

Those interested in learning more about what state-federal judicial councils offer are encouraged to download the pocket guide Enhancing Cooperation Through State-Federal Judicial Councils, also available in hard copy. 

As the guide demonstrates, councils benefit state and federal judges by, among other things, helping them do the following:

  • Build relationships across court systems
  • Improve communication and prevent misunderstandings
  • Examine diverse perspectives on common issues
  • Take action to address concerns (e.g., by creating manuals on complex topics like certification of state law questions)
  • Establish mutually beneficial activities (e.g., educational programs for the bar, bench, or general public)
  • Quickly address new issues, because a formal mechanism for discussion is already in place

The pocket guide and this curated collection of resources also include a list of potential topics that could benefit from collaboration and sample forms that will help courts initiate and prepare for an organizational state-federal judicial council meeting. The sample forms are available here.