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Examining the Work of State Courts, 1994: A National Perspective From the Court Statistics Project

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 1996
This report provides a comprehensive analysis of the business of State trial and appellate courts in a nontechnical fashion.

Accurate, objective, and comparable data across States provide a relative yardstick against which States can consider their performance, identify emerging trends, and measure the possible impact of legislation. Among the principal findings of the report is the continued growth in the more serious segments of State court caseloads. Between 1984 and 1994, civil caseloads increased 24 percent; criminal caseloads, 35 percent; juvenile caseloads, 59 percent; and domestic relations caseloads, 65 percent. Many general jurisdiction courts and appellate courts had difficulty keeping up with the steady inflow of cases in 1994. Although tort cases are currently center stage in the civil litigation debate, the report finds no evidence of an increase in tort cases and shows that high-profile cases, such as medical malpractice and products liability, accounted for only 10 percent of all tort claims in 1994. The report also indicates that total criminal caseloads have increased more slowly in recent years, as total arrests declined between 1989 and 1993. The report predicts, however, that with the increase in arrests in 1994, State courts will experience an upsurge in criminal filings in the coming year. The majority of juvenile filings in 1994 involved an allegation of delinquent behavior. Extensive tables and figures are provided.

Date Published: May 11, 1996