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Judicial Business 2022

This report presents statistics on the work of the federal Judiciary for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022, comparing data for this year with 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.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which began to affect the operations and workload of the federal Judiciary in March 2020, continued to do so at times during this fiscal year. When COVID cases rose in their regions, federal courts modified their operations, employing teleconferencing and other electronic methods to conduct business, maintaining social distancing requirements, and implementing other safety measures that presented challenges for holding in-person proceedings, including trials. In the 12-month period ending September 30, 2022, workloads in most areas of the federal Judiciary declined.

In the regional courts of appeals, filings dropped 6 percent to 41,839. Total filings in the U.S. district courts fell 18 percent to 343,253 as civil case filings decreased 20 percent to 274,771, while criminal defendant filings declined 8 percent to 68,482. Bankruptcy court filings went down 12 percent to 383,810 as 79 of the 90 bankruptcy courts received fewer petitions. The number of persons under post-conviction supervision on September 30, 2022, was 122,872, an increase of less than 1 percent above the total one year earlier. Cases activated in the pretrial services system, excluding pretrial diversion cases, decreased 4 percent to 73,690.

Caseload Highlights

U.S. Courts of Appeals

  • Filings in the regional courts of appeals dropped 6 percent to 41,839 in fiscal year 2022.
  • Filings by pro se litigants, which accounted for 46 percent of new cases, fell 10 percent to 19,294.
  • Civil appeals decreased 5 percent to 22,181.
  • Criminal appeals declined 6 percent to 9,973.

U.S. District Courts

  • Combined filings in the district courts for civil cases and criminal defendants fell 18 percent to 343,253.

Civil Filings

  • Civil case filings went down 20 percent to 274,771.
  • Cases involving diversity of citizenship decreased 37 percent to 105,212.
  • Federal question cases declined 3 percent to 131,131.
  • Filings with the United States as defendant fell 9 percent to 35,589, and filings with the United States as plaintiff dropped 13 percent to 2,839.

Criminal Filings

  • Filings for criminal defendants (including those transferred from other districts) decreased 8 percent to 68,482.
  • Drug offense defendants fell 15 percent to 19,589. Filings for defendants charged with crimes involving marijuana dropped 22 percent, and filings related to non-marijuana drug crimes fell 15 percent.
  • Defendants prosecuted for immigration violations remained stable, falling less than 1 percent to 19,148. The southwestern border districts, which received 88 percent of immigration crime defendants, had a combined reduction in filings of 2 percent.
  • Filings for defendants accused of traffic offenses went up 60 percent to 1,990.

U.S. Bankruptcy Courts

  • Bankruptcy petition filings decreased 12 percent to 383,810.
  • Nonbusiness (i.e., largely consumer) petitions went down 11 percent to 370,685, and business petitions fell 19 percent to 13,125.
  • Reductions occurred in filings under chapter 7 (down 26 percent) and chapter 11 (down 15 percent). Filings under chapter 13 grew 27 percent.
  • Fewer petitions were filed in 79 of the 90 bankruptcy courts.

Federal Probation and Pretrial Services System

  • The total of 122,872 persons under post-conviction supervision on September 30, 2022, was less than 1 percent lower than the total one year earlier.
  • Persons serving terms of supervised release on that date after leaving correctional institutions increased 1 percent to 109,781 and amounted to 89 percent of all persons under supervision.
  • Cases opened in the pretrial services system, excluding pretrial diversion cases, decreased 4 percent to 73,690.