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Trivial Pursuit, Federal Courts Edition

A hat tip to Sabrina Pacifici at beSpacific for pointing out the latest update to the federal judiciary's compilation of judicial facts and figures. The numbers span 1990 to 2008 and provide a surprisingly interesting look at the caseloads of the federal courts and how they have evolved over nearly two decades. Here are a few items that jumped out at me:

  • The number of appeals filed in 2008 was 61,104 compared to 40,893 in 1990. The number of appeals terminated in 2008 was 59,096, compared to 38,961 in 1990.
  • Of those nearly 60,000 appeals terminated in 2008, only half were terminated on the merits as opposed to on procedural grounds. Fewer than 9,000 were decided after oral argument.
  • Of the 61,000 new appeals in 2008, 13,667 were criminal cases, 31,454 were civil and the rest were administrative or bankruptcy cases. Of those 31,454 civil appeals, 16,853 were prisoner petitions.
  • Close to half of all appeals filed in 2008 were pro se and roughly half of all those pro se appeals were prisoner petitions.
  • In the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, fewer cases were filed in 2008 than in 1990 -- 1,459 versus 1,466.
  • U.S. district courts saw the number of new civil case filings rise from 217,013 in 1990 to 267,257 in 2008. During the same period, the number of authorized judgeships rose from 575 to 678.
  • The number of new criminal cases filed rose from 48,035 in 1990 to 70,896 in 2008. These 2008 filings involve 92,355 defendants, as opposed to 65,855 in 1990.
  • The median time required for a district court to process a civil case barely changed between 1990 and 2008, from eight months to 8.1 months. The median time to process a criminal case from filing to disposition went from 4.6 months in 1990 to 6.8 months in 2008.
  • Bankruptcy filings rose from 749,981 in 1990 to 1.04 million in 2008. The greatest numbers of bankruptcy filings was in 2005, when the number was 1.8 million.

There are many more facts and figures in these charts. You can navigate through them from the main statistics page or download the entire set of statistics in a single report.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 2, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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