Federal Criminal Law Resources

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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.