United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. has issued his 2011 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary. The Report discusses federal judges’ Code of Conduct, financial disclosures and gift regulation, and recusal. Justice Roberts’ Report also provides an appendix covering the workload of the many federal courts over the last year:
In 2011, caseloads increased in the U.S. district courts and in the probation and pretrial services offices, but decreased in the U.S. appellate and bankruptcy courts. Total case filings in the district courts grew 2% to 367,692. The number of persons under post-conviction supervision rose 2% to 129,780. Cases opened in the pretrial services system also went up 2%, reaching 113,875. In the U.S. courts of appeals, though, filings dropped 1.5% to 55,126. Filings in the U.S. bankruptcy courts, which had climbed 14% in 2010, declined 8% this year to just below 1.5 million petitions.
The Supreme Court of the United States
The total number of cases filed in the Supreme Court decreased from 8,159 filings in the 2009 Term to 7,857 filings in the 2010 Term, a decrease of 3.7%. The number of cases filed in the Court’s in forma pauperis docket decreased from 6,576 filings in the 2009 Term to 6,299 filings in the 2010 Term, a 4.2% decrease. The number of cases filed in the Court’s paid docket decreased from 1,583 filings in the 2009 Term to 1,558 filings in the 2010 Term, a 1.6% decrease. During the 2010 Term, 86 cases were argued and 83 were disposed of in 75 signed opinions, compared to 82 cases argued and 77 disposed of in 73 signed opinions in the 2009 Term.
The Federal Courts of Appeals
Filings in the regional courts of appeals fell 1.5% to 55,126. Growth occurred in original proceedings and bankruptcy appeals. Appeals arising from the district courts decreased. Although civil appeals remained fairly stable, reductions occurred in many types of criminal appeals. Appeals of administrative agency decisions declined as a result of the continued drop in filings related to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
The Federal District Courts
Civil filings in the U.S. district courts grew 2% to 289,252 cases. Fueling this growth was a 2% increase in federal question cases (i.e., actions under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States in which the United States is not a party in the case), which resulted mainly from cases addressing civil rights, consumer credit, and intellectual property rights.
Cases filed with the United States as a party climbed 9%. Those with the United States as plaintiff increased in response to a surge in defaulted student loan cases. Cases with the United States as defendant rose largely because of growth in Social Security cases.
Although criminal case filings (including transfers) remained stable (up by 12 cases to 78,440), the number of criminal defendants increased 3% to set a new record of 102,931. Growth in filings occurred for defendants charged with drug crimes, general offenses, firearms and explosives offenses, sex offenses, and property offenses.
Filings for defendants charged with immigration offenses fell for the first time since 2006, decreasing 3%. The southwestern border districts accounted for 74% of the Nation’s total immigration defendant filings, up from 73% in 2010.
The Bankruptcy Courts
Filings of bankruptcy petitions declined 8% to 1,467,221. This was the first reduction since 2007, when filings plunged after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 took effect. Filings for 2011 were lower in 87 of the 90 bankruptcy courts. Nonbusiness petitions fell 8%, and business petitions dropped 14%.
Bankruptcy petitions decreased 10% under chapter 7, 16% under chapter 11, and 4% under chapter 13.
The Federal Probation and Pretrial Services System
The 129,780 persons under post-conviction supervision on September 30, 2011, represented an increase of 2% over the total from the previous year. The number of persons serving terms of supervised release after their departure from correctional institutions grew 2% to 105,037, and amounted to 81% of all persons under supervision.
Cases opened in the pretrial services system in 2011, including pretrial diversion cases, rose 2% to 113,875.
Click here to read the full report issued by the United States Courts.