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Econometric Analysis of State Court Criminal Case Delay and Trial Rates

NCJ Number
T B Marvell; M L Luskin; C E Moody
Date Published
This research applied the time series-cross section research design to the courts of 12 States in determining the impact on court delay of adding judges, the impact of trials on delay, the effect of delay-reduction efforts, and the impact of conviction rates on trial rates.
The States involved in the study were Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. The courts in these States were selected because they compile data suitable for this analysis. The research analyzed statistics from the individual courts over 9-17 years. A clear finding is that the number of judges has little or no impact on delay in criminal cases. Increases in trials and trial rates do not cause more delay, a finding virtually uniform among the States. The North Carolina speedy trial law reduced case delay, but the Connecticut law did not. Time standards had a noticeable impact in Kansas, but not in Idaho, Oregon, or Iowa. Most of the numerous other delay-reduction efforts in the 12 States did not yield significant results. Exceptions were Connecticut and Illinois procedures to relieve caseload pressure on felony judges and case-management programs in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and California. Criminal delay is little affected by the volume of either civil or criminal filings. The most pronounced and consistent finding is the impact of criminal filings on the number of pending cases and dispositions. 24 tables, 200-item bibliography.