Working for the Federal Judiciary
An independent Judiciary was created under Article III of the United States Constitution. The Judicial Branch is one of the three separate and distinct branches of the federal government; the other two are the legislative and executive branches.
For more information on a career with the Federal Judiciary, recruitment videos or additional Federal benefits, visit the Unites States Courts’ website (http://www.uscourts.gov …).
The Northern District of California has adopted an Equal Employment Opportunity Plan which provides equal employment opportunity to all persons regardless of their race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, or disability.
The following information is important if you are considering a career in the federal judiciary:
1. Background Checks
All positions are subject to a FBI fingerprint check and background investigation. Employment will be provisional and contingent upon the satisfactory completion of the required background investigation.
2. Citizenship Requirements
Due to recent changes in the law, only U.S. citizens can work for the federal government. An exceptions is, however, available for permanent residents actively seeking U.S. citizenship.
A noncitizen may be interviewed and considered for employment, but an employment offer may only be made to an individual who qualifies for an exception under 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(3)(B). For additional detailed information, please visit the Legal Information Institute (www.law.cornell.edu …).
Please Note: Under 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(3)(B), a lawful permanent resident seeking citizenship may not apply for citizenship until he or she has been a permanent resident for at least five years (three years if seeking naturalization as a spouse of a citizen), at which point he or she must apply for citizenship within six months of becoming eligible, and must complete the process within two years of applying (unless there is a delay caused by the processors of the application).
3. Excepted Service and At-Will Employment
Positions with the United States Courts are excepted service appointments. Excepted service appointments are “at will” and may be terminated with or without cause by the Court.
4. Code of Conduct
Employees of the federal Judiciary are expected to observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the Judiciary are preserved and the judicial employee’s office reflects a devotion to serving the public. Download the Code of Conduct (.pdf).
Judiciary pay is made up of base pay plus either a locality pay component (for positions in the contiguous 48 states) or a cost-of-living allowance component (for states and U.S. territories outside the contiguous U.S.). There are multiple pay systems, but the majority of Judiciary employees are covered by a pay system called the Court Personnel System (CPS). Pay is set at the local court level and is based on specific qualifications for the job, such as length or quality of experience, specific job skills, and/or education level. Direct deposit of pay is required.
Links to information about each pay system are provided in the next two sections titled “Court Personnel System” and “Judiciary Salary Plan”.
Court Personnel System
CPS covers most court employees who work in district court clerks’ offices. The CPS classification system provides 12 pay bands. Each band includes a developmental range allowing employees to advance at a faster pace while they learn the job, and a full performance range. The bands provide considerable flexibility to courts in setting pay for their employees. Review the current CPS Pay Rates (www.uscourts.gov …)
Judiciary Salary Plan
The Judiciary Salary Plan (JSP) covers all executives and their second-in-commands; the judges’ personal staff; court interpreters; and court law clerks. Review current JPS Pay Rates (www.uscourts.gov …)
Court reporters in the federal judiciary have a unique compensation structure that includes both salary and transcript income. The pay rates listed reflect the salary component of court reporter income.
To review current Court Reporter Pay Rates please use the following links:
6. Federal Court Employees’ Benefits Package
The Federal Judiciary provides the following competitive benefits:
(Some benefits require employee contributions.)
- Health Benefits
- Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Programs
- Flexible Spending Accounts
- Leave Act Benefits
- Annual Leave/Vacation
- Sick Leave
- Life Insurance
- Transit Subsidy Program
- Retirement Program
- Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)
- Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
Paid Annual Federal Holidays
- New Year’s Day
- Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Presidents’ Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Columbus Day
- Veterans Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Day
When a federal legal holiday falls on a Sunday, the court will be closed Monday. When a holiday falls on a Saturday, the court will be closed the preceding Friday.
Under FRCP 77(c) and 6(a), federal court holidays also include “any day declared a holiday by the President or Congress” in the course of the year.
In addition to the benefits listed above employees can elect to enter additional benefit programs as private consumers. These programs include:
- Long term care insurance
- Membership in a credit union
- Long term disability insurance
- Health club membership
- Employee Assistance Program
- Occupational Health Center (On site in San Francisco)