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Publication Civil Rights Complaints in U.S. District Courts, 1990-2006

Tracey Kyckelhahn, Thomas H. Cohen, J.D., Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistics

August 29, 2008    NCJ 222989

Examines civil rights claims based on race, age, sex, or national origin involving employment, welfare, housing, voting, or other civil rights discrimination issues. It covers civil rights claims litigated in federal district courts from 1990 to 2006. Information is presented on trends in types of civil rights cases filed in federal district courts, the basis of federal court jurisdiction, case processing time, disposition of civil rights cases, and the types of trials that occur in the federal courts. In addition, this report examines who wins in civil rights trials and the estimated median monetary amount awarded to litigants.


  • Civil rights filings doubled in U.S. district courts from 1990 (18,922 filings) to 1997 (43,278 filings) and subsequently stabilized until 2003. From 2003 through 2006, the number of civil rights cases filed in U.S. district courts declined by 20%.
  • During the period from 1990 through 2006, the percentage of civil rights cases concluded by trial declined from 8% to 3%.
  • From 2000 to 2006 plaintiffs won just under a third of civil rights trials on average, and the median damage awards for plaintiffs who won in civil rights trials ranged from $114,000 to $154,500.

Part of the Civil Rights Complaints in U.S. District Courts Series

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Full report (PDF 137K)
ASCII file (31K)
Spreadsheet (Zip format 22K)
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