U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Appeals of Civil Trials Concluded in 2005

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2011
8 pages
Thomas H Cohen, J.D., Ph.D.; Donald J Farole, Jr., Ph.D.
Publication Type
Report (Annual/Periodic)
This study examined civil trials concluded in State trial courts in 2005 with judgments or verdicts later appealed to an intermediate appellate court or court of last resort.
Study findings provide national-level estimates of the effect of appellate court litigation on outcomes of civil trials. Highlights include: plaintiffs and defendants appealed 3,970 (15 percent) of the 26,950 tort, contract, and real property bench and jury trials concluded in State trial courts in 2005; nearly half (44 percent) of trials with damage awards of $1 million or more were appealed; in comparison, appeals were filed in less than a fifth of trials with no damages (14 percent); 61 percent of civil appeals were decided on the merits, while the remainder were dismissed or withdrawn; the trial court verdict or judgment was fully or partly reversed in 35 percent of civil appeals decided on the merits; trials with damage awards of $100,000 or more were reversed at a higher rate than trials with no damage awards; the average case processing time for appeals decided on the merits was 14 months, while appeals that were dismissed or withdrawn were disposed on average within 6 months. Cases were tracked through the appellate process from 2005 to 2010; data were collected from the administrative files of 84 appellate courts in 35 States. These courts received appeals for the cases disposed by courts sampled in 2005. Details were provided on the characteristics of general civil bench and jury trials appealed; the frequency with which appellate courts affirmed, reversed, or modified trial court outcomes; and the length of time it took to dispose of civil trials on appeal. Tables and figures
Date Created: October 3, 2011