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January 2012

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


The Federal District Courts

Civil filings in the U.S. district courts grew 2 percent to 289,252 cases. Fueling this growth was a 2 percent 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 percent. 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 percent 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 percent. The southwestern border districts accounted for 74 percent of the Nation’s total immigration defendant filings, up from 73 percent in 2010.