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Judicial Business 2013

This report presents statistics on the work of the Federal Judiciary for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, comparing data for this year to data for prior years and, when possible, explaining increases or decreases in caseloads.

Separate sections of the report address the appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts; the probation and pretrial services system; and other components of the Federal Judiciary. Caseload totals for the major programs of the Federal Judiciary appear in the table of judicial caseload indicators.

Filings in the U.S. courts of appeals, which had risen 4 percent in 2012, dropped 2 percent to 56,475 in 2013. In the U.S. district courts, total filings grew 1 percent to 375,870 as civil case filings climbed 2 percent to 284,604, although criminal defendant filings fell 3 percent to 91,266. Petitions filed in the U.S. bankruptcy courts decreased 12 percent to 1,107,699. The number of persons under post-conviction supervision held steady, decreasing less than 1 percent to 131,869. Cases opened in the pretrial services system declined less than 1 percent to 108,705.

Caseload Highlights

U.S. Courts of Appeals

  • In the regional courts of appeals, filings fell 2 percent to 56,475.
  • Appeals involving pro se litigants decreased 1 percent and accounted for 51 percent of filings.
  • Criminal appeals were down 13 percent, appeals of administrative agency decisions were down 1 percent, and civil appeals were down less than 1 percent.
  • Original proceedings grew 20 percent, and bankruptcy appeals rose 12 percent.

U.S. District Courts

Combined filings of civil cases and criminal defendants in the district courts increased 1 percent to 375,870.

Civil Filings

  • Civil case filings climbed 2 percent to 284,604.
  • Cases involving diversity of citizenship grew 4 percent.
  • Filings with the United States as defendant increased 4 percent.
  • Filings with the United States as plaintiff fell 13 percent.

Criminal Filings

  • Filings for criminal defendants (including transfers) dropped 3 percent to 91,266.
  • Decreases occurred for defendants charged with drug crimes (down 1 percent), immigration violations (down 5 percent), and property crimes (down 3 percent).
  • Growth occurred for defendants accused of sex offenses (up 10 percent), violent crimes (up 3 percent), and regulatory offenses (up 2 percent).

U.S. Bankruptcy Courts

  • Bankruptcy petition filings declined 12 percent to 1,107,699.
  • Fewer petitions were filed in 86 of the 90 bankruptcy courts.
  • Consumer (i.e., nonbusiness) petitions fell 12 percent, and business petitions decreased 17 percent.
  • Filings dropped 14 percent under chapter 7, 10 percent under chapter 11, and 8 percent under chapter 13.

Federal Probation and Pretrial Services System

  • The number of persons under post-conviction supervision on September 30, 2013, was 131,869, which was less than 1 percent below the total one year earlier.
  • Persons serving terms of supervised release upon leaving correctional institutions rose 1 percent to 109,379 and constituted 83 percent of all persons under supervision.
  • Cases opened in the pretrial services system this year, including pretrial diversion cases, decreased less than 1 percent to 108,705.