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State Court Caseload Statistics
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Examining the Work of State Courts is a joint project of the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). The interactive publication provides a concise, graphically oriented volume that makes state court statistics highly accessible, giving the reader on-line access that cannot reasonably be included in the text of the document. The publication also provides the reader with additional resources that help to facilitate the understanding of the work of state courts. 


Summary findings

  • The aggregate number of newly filed, reopened, and reactivated cases reported to the Court Statistics Project (CSP) from the nation’s state courts reached a record high 102.4 million incoming cases in 2006. This total is largely due to higher volumes of civil and criminal caseloads, each of which rose about 3.5% between 2005 and 2006.

  • Most (54%) of the 102.4 million cases fall under the traffic category, which captures non-criminal traffic and local or­dinance violations. Accordingly, many of the remaining civil, domestic relations, crimi­nal, and juvenile cases, though fewer in number, are often more resource intensive for the courts to process and adjudicate.

  • The total number of judicial officers in state courts has risen about 5% in the last 10 years. While unified and general jurisdiction courts increased by 15% during that period, limited jurisdiction courts reported a slight (1%) decrease. However, the slight decrease is misleading. When California completed the process of unifying its trial courts in 1999, limited ju­risdiction municipal court judges became general jurisdiction superior court judges. Since 1999, the number of judicial officers in limited jurisdiction courts has increased by 508 (or by 3%).

  • The 5% increase in total incoming cases between 2001 and 2003 resulted in a 5% increase in the number of incoming cases per judicial officer, as their numbers remained essentially unchanged during that period. Typically, total incoming caseloads increase at a rate of just over 1% a year, while the aver­age annual growth rate of judicial officers is 0.5% per year.

  • The median rate of judges per 100,000 state residents in unified courts is roughly twice that of general jurisdic­tion judges in two-tiered court systems because judges in some state unified courts may hear a composition of cases more comparable to a combined limited and general jurisdiction caseload elsewhere.

  • Non-traffic cases per judge ranged from a low of 360 non-traffic cases per full-time general jurisdiction court judge in Massachusetts to a high of 4,374 non-traffic cases per judge in South Carolina.


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