Administrative Office of the United States Courts
Established in 1939, The AO or Administrative Office of the United States Courts is the agency in charge of administration for the court system of the U.S.
The AO is tasked with many duties that support the judicial branch of our government. Some of the areas which they manage are legal, financial, administrative, management, and information technology services.
The Judicial Conference of the United States oversees the administrative office while also setting the legislative policy for the U.S. This entity is made up of the Chief Justice for the U.S., the chief judge of each court of appeals, a district court from each region and the chief judge of the U.S. court of international trade.
The primary function of the AO is to facilitate and carry out Judicial policies, federal statutes, and regulations. They also act as a liaison of communication between the Judicial branch, Congress, the Executive branch and the public.
The mission of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts is to support the Judicial branch in many ways, such as preparing the annual budget for Congress, review and analyze legislation affecting the court personnel, and interpreting and applying new laws.
Some additional ways the AO support the courts are by supplying clerks, probation and pretrial service officers, court reporters and public defenders. This office also helps to determine and arrange suitable quarters for the justice services such as government buildings and courthouses.
The AO includes the following offices and departments:
- 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
- Office of Probation and Pretrial Services
- Office of Information Technology
- Office of Internal Services.
The director for the AO is appointed and serves as the Secretary of the Judicial Conference. This person works closely with the deputy director, by the Chief Justice of the United States.
Formerly all administrative support and offices were overseen by the Treasury Department; then it shifted to the Interior Department in 1849 then again to the Justice Department in 1870. Finally, in 1939 Congress and a group of lawyers, academics, and other judicial officers decided it would be best to have an independent entity overseen by the Judicial branch to handle administration. So in 1939, they developed the AO to serve this purpose.
In its initial form, the administrative offices were widely held to be inefficient and threatening to the judicial process. In August of 1939, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes proposed a restructuring which allowed the AO to support the justice system without interfering with the courts or judges. This new plan was passed, and it is the system in place now. Each year the circuit and district judges meet to review the efficiency and workings of administrative matters to refine the process even more.