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Federal and State Court Cooperation: Examples of State–Federal Court Cooperation

The following documents, grouped by topic, offer examples that courts can use to enhance cooperation between the state and federal judiciaries. Most of the documents below stem from successful activities either completed by state–federal judicial councils and/or benefiting from more informal cooperation between state and federal courts. The Federal Judicial Center did not contribute to the below work unless explicitly named as the author. Any questions about or requests for their content should be directed to the named authors. If you know of any additional documents that could be included on this page, please contact Jason A. Cantone at


Navigating Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code​ 
Federal Judicial Center
2017, 105 pages 
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.

Chapter 9 Online Resource Repository
Federal Judicial Center
This repository of materials was developed as a companion to the above manual, Navigating Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code, to provide courts with examples of case documents and other resource materials related to issues likely to arise in Chapter 9 cases. The repository includes a page featuring local rules and court procedures, as well as information about related state law.

Certification of State Law Questions

Certification of Questions of State Law in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Third, Sixth, and Ninth Circuits (2010–2018)
Federal Judicial Center
2020, 36 pages

This report evaluates the use of certified questions of state law between 2010 and 2018 in three U.S. circuit courts of appeal: the Ninth, Sixth, and Third Circuits. The data shows variation in the rate of certification and timing of certification events between the circuits.

Certified Questions of State Law: An Examination of State and Territorial Authorizing Statutes
Federal Judicial Center
2020, 18 pages

This report examines state and territorial statutes that authorize certification of questions of state law. Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Mariana Islands all have certified question statutes, which specify from which courts they can accept questions. The report identifies the general trends and considerable variations between the statutes.

Practice Handbook on Certification of State Law Questions by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to the New York State Court of Appeals
Advisory Group to the New York State–Federal Judicial Council
2016 (Third Edition), 28 pages

This handbook was developed by the Advisory Group to the New York State–Federal Judicial Council to provide readily accessible guidance to attorneys working on cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit who face the possibility that their clients or other parties may request the federal court to refer state law issues to the New York Court of Appeals or the possibility that the Second Circuit may certify state law questions sua sponte.

Civics Education

Teaching about the Maine Judiciary: Conversations with Maine Judges
(Video and Study Guide)
The Goldfarb Center and the Maine Federal–State Judicial Council collaborated to produce the video Conversations with Maine Judges to help Maine teachers introduce their students to how courts and judges work. The video draws on interviews mostly of recently retired federal judges and justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The accompanying study guide was produced by Freeport High School social studies teacher Hank Ogilby. Both of these can viewed or downloaded from the site.

Attorney Privilege and Work Product: CLE Program
The New York State–Federal Judicial Council and the Second Circuit Judicial Council presented a complimentary CLE Program on “the ethical and substantive standards for the application of attorney–client privilege and work product protection in civil and criminal litigation, in the corporate context, with respect to employees and former employees, joint defense agreements, and the witness/advocate rule.”

Discovery and Electronically Stored Information (ESI)

Report on the Coordination of Discovery Between New York Federal and State Courts  
Advisory Group to the New York State–Federal Judicial Council
2016, 46 pages

This report examined opportunities for coordination on discovery issues between for New York state and federal courts when plaintiffs bring related cases in both courts, against one or more of the same defendants and alleging claims involving a single event (or transaction) or a “common course of conduct.”

Harmonizing the Pre-Litigation Obligation to Preserve Electronically Stored Information in New York State and Federal Courts 
Advisory Group to the New York State–Federal Judicial Council
2010, 44 pages

The Advisory Group to the New York State–Federal Judicial Council analyzed New York state and federal courts’ treatment of prelitigation conduct involving the creation, retention, and destruction of electronically stored information (ESI) to determine whether the courts were consistent and harmonious when addressing these issues. The report contains the group’s findings on the similarities and differences between the current New York state and federal laws that govern the prelitigation duty to preserve ESI, as well as its findings on whether the differences may lead to inconsistent obligations in state and federal courts and on possible resolutions to these inconsistencies.


Interpreters in Federal and New York State Courts: Recommended Best Practices
Advisory Group to the New York State–Federal Judicial Council
2015, 8 pages

The Advisory Group to the New York State–Federal Judicial Council completed a best practices document on interpreters in federal and New York state courts that was approved on May 18, 2015, by the New York State–Federal Judicial Council. That document is presented here as part of a set of CLE materials on vulnerable populations. 

Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)

Coordinating Multijurisdiction Litigation: A Pocket Guide for Judges
Federal Judicial Center, National Center for State Courts, United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
2013, 20 pages 

A joint project by the National Center for State Courts, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, and the Federal Judicial Center, this pocket guide provides information on the coordination and management of related cases that are pending simultaneously in both state and federal courts. The guide provides useful tips for initiating contact with judges in other jurisdictions regarding related cases, for coordinating discovery across jurisdictional lines, and for managing attorney disputes.  

State–Federal Calendar Conflicts

The Florida State–Federal Judicial Council worked on a resolution for calendar conflicts between the state and federal courts of Florida. That resolution is available here.

Supervision of Offenders

Memorandum of Understanding for the Concurrent Supervision of Offenders​ 
2017, 3 pages
With the goal of fostering stronger cooperation between the Hawaiian federal and state judicial systems when dealing with the concurrent supervision of offenders, the United States Probation Office for the District of Hawaii, the Adult Client Services Branch of the Hawaii Judiciary, and the Hawaii Paroling Authority entered into the attached Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).