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Research Your Court
Prior to beginning any judicial internship or clerkship--or even before applying to work for a judge--students should become acquainted with the structure and basic operations of a court. Most courts publish an operations manual, such as the Florida Supreme Court's Manual of Internal Operating Procedures, that will explain the basic duties of the courts' employees.
Understanding Federal Courts
This publication was developed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to provide an introduction to the federal judicial system, its organization and administration, and its relationship to the legislative and executive branches of the government.
Publications of the Florida State Courts
The Florida State Courts publishes benchbooks and guides to supplement the annual reports it issues. The annual report breaks down data on filings, the programs and activities of the courts, and any developments over the past year.
Education & Outreach in the Florida Courts
If you are new to the law or want more basics on the structure and function of courts in Florida, the Education page has diagrams of the courts and other resources to explain its mission.
DOAH - Agency Organization
The Florida Division of Administrative Hearings settles disputes between Florida agencies and the people or corporations they regulate. This document describes DOAH's basic organization.
How is research different in a court?
Research when working at a court is not fundamentally different from the research you learn in law school or while working for a firm; however, the caseloads of the federal courts have been increasing significantly in recent years, leading judges to rely on precise and quick assistance from their interns and clerks.
Clerks usually publish statistics of the workload and closure rates for their courts, broken down by case type. It may be helpful to orient yourself to the general workload of your court before you begin working.
One of the most basic places to start is with the court's procedural rules.
Westlaw Court Rules
On Westlaw, follow the "Statutes & Court Rules" link. Most state statutory compilations include the Rules of Court. Westlaw also links to the Federal Rules of Appellate, Civil, and Criminal Procedure and the Rules of Evidence. Use the topical index near the bottom of the page to find the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, or for the statutory/regulatory rules in place for an administrative subject.
Lexis Court Rules
In Lexis Advance, navigate to Statutes & Legislation, then "Court Rules" under Content Type. Lexis compiles all Federal Court rules into a single "Federal Rules Annotated" volume and links to individual state rules as they appear in the code.
Our Trial Lawyers Guide has links to the individual federal and Florida courts webpages, along with links to local rules, judge's biographies, and other pertinent information.
There are many secondary sources for model jury instructions. Although the State of Florida has an official set of standard jury instructions for criminal and civil cases, not every case matches the standard. You may need to branch into the unofficial model instructions.
Research your Judge
Information about how a judge generally rules on motions or issues can be invaluable to attorneys. It can also be an excellent source of background information before a student begins working at a court. A number of databases collect information about cases and filings, then link that information to individual judges.
Lexis Litigation Analytics
Lexis+ has a litigation analytics module that allows you to see litigation trends based on a particular judge's ruling patterns.
Under Practice Tools, navigate to Litigation Analytics and select the "Judge" tab to search for a specific federal judge.