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Examining the Work of State Courts, 2002: A National Perspective From the Court Statistics Project

NCJ Number
Brian J. Ostrom, Neal B. Kauder, Robert C. LaFountain
Date Published
97 pages
This document examines the court statistics of State courts.

An overview of State trial court caseloads indicates 93 million State court filings in 2001. There are more than 15,500 State courts with just over 29,000 judicial officers. Civil caseloads increased slightly in 2001. All but three States cleared over 90 percent of their civil caseload between 1999 and 2001. Tort cases garner the most interest of all State court cases. Tort filings in 30 States decreased since 1992. Domestic relations filings increased 7 percent between 1996 and 2001. Custody filings rose dramatically, while interstate filings declined. Juvenile filings dropped to less than 2 million in 2001. Delinquency dispositions are less likely to involve property and more likely to involve violent, drug, and public order offenses. The number of juvenile cases judicially waived to adult court is decreasing. The number of criminal cases in 2001 was just over 14 million. Clearance rates reflect reductions in a court¿s pending caseload. Very few criminal cases are resolved at trial. Felony filings rose for two straight years--2000 and 2001. Clearance rates fell in most general jurisdiction courts between 1999 and 2001. The number of appeals filed in State appellate courts declined for the third consecutive year. The most common dispositions are signed opinions and pre-argument dismissals. Mandatory civil and criminal appeals in intermediate appellate courts declined in 2001. The majority of intermediate appellate courts are keeping up with their incoming caseloads. Discretionary civil and criminal petitions in courts of last resort declined in 2001. About 7 percent of discretionary petitions are granted in courts of last resort. An examination of serious crime is included. Appendix