Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Judicial Statistics

Whether you are a student clerking for a judge, a practitioner, or a scholar requiring statistical information for empirical inquiry, gathering judicial statistics can definitely be to your advantage. This type of research can be an exercise in frustration, unless you are familiar with some key websites or databases. Unfortunately, this topic often goes ignored in legal research texts.

Federal Courts
If you are searching for federal statistics, check out United States Courts Statistics. You can find numerous statistics, including judicial caseload and court management statistics.

For instance, if you are interested in finding out how long it may take from filing a notice of appeal to the final disposition of a case in the First Circuit, you may view the median time by clicking on the following links:  Federal Court Management Statistics>Courts of Appeals>Select "First Circuit" under "Select a Court to View Profile."

State Courts
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) provides the most complete source for locating aggregated state data up to 2009 at the Court Statistics Project page.  If you are searching for individual state figures, you can Browse by State under "Information Resources" and click on your state. This will lead you to a link to the particular state's official site. Please note that available judicial statistics for individual states vary widely. Most provide data and statistics only broken down to the jurisdictional level.

Another option to locate individual state judicial statistics is to go directly to the state's official website. For example, take a look at what Massachusetts has to offer.

If you have access to WestlawNext, take a look at Judicial Reversal Reports and Judicial Motion Reports under "Tools." The Judicial Reversal Reports examine a judge's appellate record.

The Judicial Motion Reports may be helpful in scrutinizing a judge's motion history. The information allows you to see how long it takes a judge to rule on a motion and the judge's propensity to grant or deny a motion. The information available varies by court.

This is just a brief glimpse at some of the judicial statistics available to aid in your research. If you find yourself frustrated after spending much time researching, remember that even though these types of statistics are becoming more readily available, there is still the possibility that the statistics you need have not been recorded.

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