Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and the attorneys who negotiated his 2008 federal criminal plea deal are in the news. US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is resigning from President Trump’s cabinet after defending his role in the negotiations. Epstein has recently been charged with additional federal sexual offenses in New York. His most recent case is being heard in the US District Court of the Southern District of New York. The intricacies of federal criminal procedure, especially when they involve separate federal districts, are being discussed in news and social media outlets that cover legal issues.
Librarians’ minds work in strange ways. Since topics that are in the headlines can find their way to the Reference Desk, it leads us to a discussion of resources that the Alameda County Law Library collection offers for researching federal criminal law.
Much of ACLL’s collection is focused on California state law but here is information for attorneys and others who are involved in federal criminal cases. Most of the federal law secondary resources can be accessed through our Westlaw subscription.
On the shelf at ACLL
ACLL does have primary and a few secondary resources on federal law in paper including:
United States Code Service Lawyers Edition
Federal Reporter cases to 2013, for later federal cases use Lexis or Westlaw.
Bender’s Federal Practice Forms (includes criminal) KF 8836 .F78
Available at ACLL through our Westlaw subscription
Complete Manual of Criminal Forms (includes federal)
Federal Criminal Appeals
Federal Criminal Restitution
Federal Criminal Rules Handbook
Federal Habeas Manual
Federal Jury Practice & Instructions (includes criminal)
Federal Jury Practice & Instructions: Criminal Companion Handbook
Federal Postconviction Remedies and Relief Handbook with Forms
Federal Practice & Procedure (the treatise formerly known as Wright & Miller)
Federal Rules of Evidence (treatise) (includes criminal)
Federal Trial Handbook: Criminal
Federal Trial Objections (includes criminal)
Federal criminal legal resources on the internet
There are also resources available on the internet. Many legal pundits interested in the Epstein case are perusing the Justice Manual (JM) published by the United States Department of Justice. The JM was previously known as the United States Attorneys’ Manual (USAM). It was comprehensively revised and renamed in 2018. Sections are updated periodically. In general, the date of last revision will be noted at the end of each section. For prior versions of the USAM, visit the USAM Archive.
Full text of the current JM is available at https://www.justice.gov/jm/justice-manual
With a personal PACER account, a researcher can gain access to online federal court filings and docket information. Currently there are fees involved for searching and retrieving information off PACER. ACLL does not offer access but librarians can offer guidance in using the site.
By setting up an account with Court Listener/Recap, a researcher may be able to access PACER dockets without charge as part of the co-operative file sharing of public documents that the site offers. (And the archives are easier to search than the PACER website.) With a case of high interest such as US v. Epstein, the docket activity can be reviewed and many of the documents are posted on the site and available for download.