A new free public database of federal judges’ financial disclosure reports (FDRs), including periodic transaction reports (PTRs), was launched today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
Once users register in the new database, they can access an electronic version of federal judges’ reports. The new database design allows members of the public to filter and select the reports they are seeking.
The Judiciary Electronic Filing System (JEFS) database and public access function were developed by the AO and completed before the Nov. 9, 2022 deadline set by the Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act.
Federal judges have filed annual financial disclosure reports for decades. Previously, there was no central database, and FDRs were available only in paper documents or on thumb drives.
The periodic transaction reports are a new requirement for the Judiciary. Judges must detail within 45 days specified financial transactions that occur on or after Aug. 11, 2022. These include purchases, sales, or exchanges that exceed $1,000 in stocks, bonds, commodities futures, and other forms of securities in which the judge, the judge’s spouse, or the judge’s dependent child has an interest.
The new database includes all judges’ PTRs and calendar year 2021 FDRs that are currently available for release. Both types of reports will be continuously added during the year as they are prepared for release.
For several years the Financial Disclosure Committee of the Judicial Conference, the national policy-making body for the federal Judiciary, has been discussing posting judges’ FDRs online, to increase transparency and help improve public confidence in the Judiciary without endangering filers or their families. In March 2022, the Judicial Conference authorized this project to proceed. The new online release system will be reviewed and refined in the coming months and years. Further, as related systems are modernized, the functionality of JEFS will be enhanced.
The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 requires certain senior officials in the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branch to file FDRs that publicly disclose their personal financial interests. As required by statute, Judiciary financial disclosure reports are maintained for six years, after which they are destroyed.