Methodology

For the Center for Public Integrity’s investigation of privately funded judicial seminars, we first collected information from a list of the events maintained by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

According to a 2007 policy, conference hosts that plan to pay for or reimburse federal judges for expenses related to their attendance at educational seminars must report to the U.S. Courts information including program dates, speakers and funders.

We then downloaded judges’ individual filings reporting their attendance at the privately funded seminars.  Once we gathered and entered information from both sources, we combined them into one relational database.

Within 30 days of a seminar’s conclusion, federal judges must report their dates of attendance, the name of the program provider and the name of the educational program. Judges’ seminar disclosure reports must remain online for a three-year period, after which they may be taken down.

Consequently, most forms older than three years can no longer be verified.

All forms were entered into a database, cleaned, and verified if possible against original filings and analyzed for patterns and trends from July 2008 through the end of 2012.