U.S. Courts of Appeals - Judicial Business 2014
Decreases were reported for filings of appeals of administrative agency decisions, bankruptcy appeals, and criminal appeals. Growth occurred in filings of civil appeals.
Appeals by pro se litigants, which constituted 51 percent of filings, fell 3 percent to 28,047 cases. Forty-nine percent of all filings by pro se litigants were prisoner petitions. Ninety percent of the 15,180 prisoner petitions received were filed pro se, as were 87 percent of original proceedings and 49 percent of appeals of decisions by the U.S. district courts.
Seventy-six percent of filings arose from cases originating in the U.S. district courts. Criminal appeals, which accounted for 20 percent of total filings in the appellate courts, declined 8 percent to 11,003. Appeals involving the sale, distribution, or dispensing of drugs other than marijuana fell 23 percent to 2,915. Appeals of this kind had soared 44 percent in 2012 as prisoners convicted of crack cocaine offenses sought reductions of their sentences under a 2011 amendment to federal sentencing guidelines. Declines also occurred in appeals involving justice system offenses (i.e., crimes related to judicial proceedings, such as obstruction of justice and failure to appear), property offenses, violent offenses, immigration violations, sex offenses, and firearms and explosives. Increases occurred in appeals involving general offenses (i.e., public order crimes such as bribery and money laundering) and regulatory offenses.
Administrative agency appeals dropped 16 percent to 6,927, the lowest total since 2002. Appeals of decisions by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), which accounted for 86 percent of total administrative agency appeals, fell 17 percent. Fifty-seven percent of BIA appeals were filed in the Ninth Circuit, and 14 percent were filed in the Second Circuit.
Bankruptcy appeals, which amounted to 1 percent of total appeals filings, declined 14 percent to 784.
In 2014, the category of original proceedings was expanded to include miscellaneous applications (see sidebar). The total number of filings for original proceedings and miscellaneous applications combined was 5,706, which amounted to 10 percent of total appeals filed. Excluding miscellaneous applications, filings of original proceedings remained stable, increasing by 20 cases from 5,106 in 2013 to 5,126 in 2014.
|Year||Authorized Judgeships||Filed Number||Filed Cases per Panel||Terminated Number||Terminated Cases per Panel||Pending|
|Percent Change 2013 - 2014||-||-2.6||-||-5.4||-||-0.5|
Note: This table excludes the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Original Proceedings and Miscellaneous Applications
Beginning January 1, 2014, in data for the U.S. courts of appeals, the category of original proceedings was expanded to include miscellaneous cases that previously had not been counted when compiling data for the statistical tables. Miscellaneous cases include applications under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1292(b) governing permission to appeal, 1453(c) class actions, 158(d) bankruptcy appeals from a district court or bankruptcy appellate panel, Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(f) appeals of orders granting or denying class-action certification, and miscellaneous filings.
Civil appeals rose 1 percent to 30,568. Prisoner petitions also rose 1 percent to a total of 15,180. Private non-prisoner petition appeals increased 2 percent to 12,778 as appeals involving diversity of citizenship (i.e., disputes between citizens of different states) grew 14 percent to 3,583 in response to personal injury/product liability cases alleging injuries from the drug Fosamax. U.S. non-prisoner petition appeals decreased 1 percent to 2,610.
Case terminations declined 5 percent to 55,216. As terminations exceeded filings, pending cases decreased 1 percent to 41,751, the lowest level since 2002. The median time from filing a notice of appeal or docket date to final disposition dropped from 9.0 months to 8.5 months.
Since 2010, filings in the courts of appeals have decreased 2 percent. Criminal appeals have fallen 14 percent. Administrative agency appeals have declined 11 percent. Private prisoner petitions have dropped 11 percent, but U.S. prisoner petitions have increased 13 percent. Original proceedings have grown 36 percent. Bankruptcy appeals have risen 16 percent.
Several tables that display data for the U.S courts of appeals and the U.S. bankruptcy appellate panels were renumbered in 2014 to place the tables in a more logical order. The following list indicates which tables have been renumbered.
Appeals Under Submission More Than Three Months
|Previous Number||Current Number|
|U.S. Courts of Appeals|
|Cases Terminated on the Merits After Oral Arguments or Submission on Briefs||S-1||B-10|
|Judge Participation in Cases Terminated on the Merits||S-2||B-11|
|Types of Opinions or Orders Filed in Cases Terminated on the Merits||S-3||B-12|
|Types of Opinions or Orders Filed in Cases Terminated on Procedural Grounds||S-3A||B-12A|
|Pro Se Cases Commenced, by Source||S-3A||B-19|
|Appeals Under Submission More Than Three Months||S-5||B-20|
|Bankruptcy Appellate Panels|
|Appeals Commenced, Terminated, and Pending, by Circuit||B-10||BAP-1|
|Cases Commenced, Terminated, and Pending, by Circuit||B-11||BAP-2|
Bankruptcy Appellate Panels
Five federal judicial circuits—the First, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits—have bankruptcy appellate panels (BAPs). In 2014, filings fell in three of those circuits, and overall BAP appeals decreased 7 percent to 898 (down 70 appeals). BAP filings tend to lag bankruptcy filings by about two years, so the reduction in BAP filings in 2014 reflected the drop in petitions filed in the U.S. bankruptcy courts after 2011.
The Tenth Circuit had the largest percent decline in filings, a decrease of 28 percent (down 32 appeals). Filings fell 27 percent in the Eighth Circuit (down 19 appeals) and 4 percent in the Ninth Circuit (down 23 appeals). Filings increased 5 percent in the Sixth Circuit (up three appeals) and 1 percent in the First Circuit (up one appeal).
Since 2010, BAP filings have risen 6 percent (up 53 appeals). This growth is the result of a 30 percent jump in filings in the Ninth Circuit (up 146 appeals) in the past five years. During that period, filings have fallen 49 percent in the Eighth Circuit (down 50 appeals), 34 percent in the Sixth Circuit (down 32 appeals), 9 percent in the First Circuit (down 7 appeals), and 5 percent in the Tenth Circuit (down 4 appeals).
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
The jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is defined by subject matter rather than by geographical boundaries. This court is responsible for appeals involving customs and patents, rulings by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and decisions by several federal administrative boards.
Filings in the Federal Circuit rose 18 percent to 1,491 (up 232 cases). Total filings per panel went up from 315 to 373. Increases were spread across many types of appeals, with the largest numeric growth occurring in appeals of decisions by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), which climbed by 106 to 238 (up 80 percent).
Appeals of decisions by the U.S. district courts increased by 79 to 566 (up 16 percent). Filings of petitions for writs of mandamus and other extraordinary writs rose by 31 to 59 (up 111 percent).
The largest numeric decrease occurred in appeals of decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. These dropped by 19 to 139 (down 12 percent).
Terminations of cases increased 6 percent to 1,377. As filings exceeded terminations, the number of pending cases grew 12 percent to 1,097.
Filings in the Federal Circuit were 23 percent higher in 2014 than in 2010 (up 283 cases). During that period, the circuit received more appeals of decisions by the PTO, which likely occurred in response to the America Invents Act. Over the past five years, case terminations have risen 15 percent (up 182 appeals), and pending cases have grown 21 percent (up 187 appeals).
For data on the activity of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, see Table B-8.