Friday, April 9, 2021

Online Almanac of the Federal Judiciary Now Available

Users of the popular judicial biographical directory Almanac of the Federal Judiciary recently discovered that Westlaw no longer carried the full text of this resource as of March 2021. The Almanac of the Federal Judiciary is now available campus-wide online through Wolters Kluwer.

The Almanac (a.k.a. AFJ) is a biographical database for all active federal district and appellate court judges. In addition to the standard biographical data, entries for judges will include information about their noteworthy rulings, media coverage, a list of publications, lawyers' comments on the judge's behavior and demeanor, and links to financial disclosure reports.

This online version also preserves former AFJ entries for inactive federal judges, which can be especially helpful in times of judicial transition. For newly appointed federal judges, the profiles can take some time to be developed, especially for the lawyers' evaluation section. (For example, newest U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett does not have a SCOTUS entry yet, but her inactive profile from the Seventh Circuit remains accessible.)

The "Advanced Search" feature allows you to limit your search terms to a particular subsection of the biographical entries, such as identifying which judges attended a particular school. Unfortunately, the search function in either basic or advanced mode doesn't allow for terms & connectors style searching, although exact phrases can be enclosed in quotation marks. So you may have to run several separate searches to identify how many active federal judges have been described in AFJ lawyer evaluations as a "genius" (18) versus a "jerk" (9) and conduct your own name analysis to see if there is any overlap between the two groups (no).

Despite the limited search functionality, AFJ remains an essential tool for researching federal judges, both present and past. The lawyers' evaluation comments are a particularly unique window into judicial personalities and practices.

Other resources for researching judges include Westlaw's Profiler, Lexis+'s Litigation Profile Suite, and the Leadership Connect "Courts" section. For help with using these judicial research sources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.