Thursday 1 January 2009

Federal Judiciary Report

Chief Justice John Roberts has issued his 2008 Year-End Report(15 page pdf) on the Federal Judiciary. He points out that The Judiciary, including the Supreme Court, other federal courts, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, and the Federal Judicial Center, received a total appropriation of $6.2 billion in fiscal year 2008 - representing two-tenths of 1% of the United States’ total $3 trillion budget. He states that despite the "miniscule" amount the Judiciary adds to the cost of government, the courts have undertaken rigorous cost containment efforts, a process begun four years ago, long before the current economic crisis. In September 2004, the Judicial Conference—the judges who set policy for the Judiciary—endorsed a cost-containment strategy that called for examining more than fifty discrete operations for potential cost savings.
Some 2008 Court statistics in the report:
Federal Courts of Appeals: The number of appeals filed in the regional courts of appeals in fiscal year 2008 rose by 5% to 61,104 filings; all categories of appeals increased except bankruptcy appeals.
- Administrative agency appeals grew by 12% to 11,583 filings, primarily because challenges to the Board of Immigration Appeals decisions climbed by 13% to 10,280 petitions for review.
- Criminal appeals rose by 4% to 13,667 filings; the increase stems from sentencing appeals in non-marijuana drug cases.
- Civil appeals increased by 4% to 31,454 filings. Prisoner petitions rose by 9% to 16,853 filings. Overall, non-prisoner civil appeals dropped by 1% to 14,601 filings.
- Bankruptcy appeals fell by 9% to 773 filings.
Federal District Courts:
- Civil filings in the U.S. district courts increased by 4%, rising from 257,507 cases to 267,257 cases. Diversity of citizenship filings grew by 22%, an increase of 15,838 cases. Excluding the diversity filings, the number of civil cases decreased by 3% during fiscal year 2008. The rise in diversity of citizenship filings resulted primarily from the near doubling of personal injury cases related to asbestos and diet drugs in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
- Labor law cases fell by 10%, down by more than 1,800 cases.
- Copyright cases declined by 27%, down by 1,166 cases nationally.
- The number of criminal cases filed in 2008 rose by 4% to 70,896 cases, and the number of defendants in those cases increased by 3% to 92,355 defendants.
- Immigration criminal case filings jumped by 27% to 21,313 cases, and the number of defendants in those cases rose by 26% to 22,685 defendants. This resulted mostly from filings addressing improper reentry by aliens and filings involving fraud and misuse of visa or entry permits in the five southwestern border districts.
- Sex offense case filings grew by 9% to 2,674 cases, and the number of defendants in those cases climbed by 7% to 2,760 defendants.
- The number of drug cases dropped by 7% to 15,784 cases, and the number of defendants charged with drug crimes fell by 3% to 28,932 cases.
Bankruptcy Courts
- Filings in the United States bankruptcy courts rose by 30% from 801,269 cases in 2007 to 1,042,993 cases in 2008.
- Non-business filings, which accounted for 96% of all filings, rose by 30%.
- Business filings increased by 49%.
- Chapter 7 filings increased by 40%, Chapter 11 filings by 49%, and Chapter 13 filings by 14%, while Chapter 12 filings fell by 8% in 2008.

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