Free Law Project Formally Requests Information from the Federal Judiciary

Michael Lissner

Today we are sending three letters to the federal judiciary asking for records so that we can better understand how it is administered.

The items we are requesting are:

  1. The complete Guide to Judiciary Policy.

    As the judiciary develops internal operating procedures and policies, it writes rules down in a voluminous document called the "Guide to Judiciary Policy." Numerous chapters of this policy have been released by the judiciary or otherwise leaked to the public, but much of the Guide remains unavailable.

    Our first letter requests the complete Guide to Judiciary Policy so that the public knows the self-imposed rules that govern this branch of government.

  2. A list of Judicial Conference members.

    For a century, the Judicial Conference has been the policymaking body of the judiciary. It is made up of committees, but the membership of those committees has never been released. Committees study and develop policy for important areas of the judiciary, and the public has a right to know who is in each committee.

    Our second letter requests this information going back ten years.

  3. A complete list of Ethics Advisory Opinions issued by the Committee on Codes of Conduct.

    Ethics opinions from the Committee on Codes of Conduct provide guidance to the judiciary about how to behave. These are a valuable tool for the self-governance of the judiciary, but only a handful of these documents are released to the public.

    Our third letter aims to give the public a view of the ethical guidelines the judiciary is imposing on itself.

The judiciary is not officially subject to the Freedom of Information Act, but we are sending out these requests as if it were so that we and the judiciary can have some guide rails for these requests. Accordingly, we have given the judiciary twenty business days to respond to these requests.

We look forward to working with the judiciary so that the public understands how it operates and governs itself.

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