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Judicial Business 2014

This report presents data and statistics on the work of the Federal Judiciary for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014.

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

This fiscal year, filings in the U.S. courts of appeals fell 3 percent to 54,988. Total filings in the U.S. district courts remained stable, rising less than 1 percent to 376,536 as civil case filings increased 4 percent to 295,310, but filings for criminal defendants dropped 11 percent to 81,226. Petitions filed in the U.S. bankruptcy courts decreased 13 percent to 963,739. The number of persons under post-conviction supervision grew nearly 1 percent to 132,858. Cases activated in the pretrial services system declined 8 percent to 100,068.

Caseload Highlights

U.S. Courts of Appeals

  • In the regional courts of appeals, filings dropped 3 percent to 54,988.
  • Appeals involving pro se litigants, which amounted to 51 percent of filings, fell 3 percent.
  • Criminal appeals decreased 8 percent.
  • Appeals of administrative agency decisions declined 16 percent.
  • Civil appeals increased 1 percent.

U.S. District Courts

  • Combined filings of civil cases and criminal defendants in the district courts rose less than 1 percent to 376,536.

Civil Filings

  • Civil case filings grew 4 percent to 295,310.
  • Cases involving diversity of citizenship climbed 13 percent.
  • Federal question cases rose 2 percent.
  • Filings with the United States as defendant dropped 5 percent.
  • Filings with the United States as plaintiff declined 14 percent.

Criminal Filings

  • Filings for criminal defendants (including transfers) decreased 11 percent to 81,226.
  • Reductions occurred in defendant filings (excluding transfers) for all major offense categories, including drug crimes (down 14 percent), property offenses (down 11 percent), and firearms and explosives crimes (down 10 percent).
  • Defendants prosecuted for immigration violations fell 8 percent, with five southwestern border districts accounting for 77 percent of national immigration defendant filings.

U.S. Bankruptcy Courts

  • Bankruptcy petition filings decreased 13 percent to 963,739.
  • Consumer (i.e., nonbusiness) petitions dropped 13 percent, and business petitions fell 19 percent.
  • Filings declined 15 percent under chapter 7, 20 percent under chapter 11, and 9 percent under chapter 13.
  • Fewer petitions were filed in 89 of the 90 bankruptcy courts.

Federal Probation and Pretrial Services System

  • The total of 132,858 persons under post-conviction supervision on September 30, 2014, was nearly 1 percent more than the previous year’s total.
  • Persons serving terms of supervised release upon leaving correctional institutions increased 2 percent to 111,585 and accounted for 84 percent of all persons under supervision.
  • Cases activated in the pretrial services system this year, including pretrial diversion cases, dropped 8 percent to 100,068.