Chapter 1: The Federal Courts System
located throughout each circuit. Most federal court facilities, however, do not house
USCA judges or courtrooms.
The Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. Cases
from the 12 circuit appellate courts and the highest courts of each state can be
appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is not required to hear every case
brought before it. In fact, each year the Supreme Court agrees to hear less than 10%
of the appeals presented. The courtroom and other facilities for the nine Supreme
Court justices are located in the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. Design
criteria for the Supreme Court are not included in the Guide.
Administration of the Federal Courts
Federal judges, as members of the judicial branch of government, are responsible for
the efficient operation of the federal courts. Policies for federal courts are established
by a committee of federal judges, called the Judicial Conference of the United States.
The Judicial Conference is chaired by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Standing committees of judges have policy responsibilities that are exercised on behalf
of the Judicial Conference. Furthermore, in each of the various circuits, administrative
oversight is carried out through committees called judicial councils. Day-to-day
administration in the circuits and districts is the responsibility of chief judges;
however, within broad parameters of established policies, federal judges have a
considerable degree of independence concerning the operation of their respective
The federal judiciary is served by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
(AOUSC). Located in Washington, D.C., the AOUSC performs a wide range of
administrative duties to assist the operation of the federal courts. Other administrative
officers directly responsible for carrying out judicial work include Clerks of Court and
Circuit and District Court Executives.