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U.S. Courts report immigration cases soar, district court filings rise

March 12, 2019

Immigration prosecutions increased 37 percent last year while overall filings in federal district courts rose 7 percent, according to the United States Courts’ 2018 Annual Report and Court Statistics.

The report released Tuesday also found that filings in federal courts of appeal declined 2 percent in 2018.

Overall, 27,916 defendants were prosecuted for immigration violations — 78 percent of them in the five southwestern border districts, according to the statistics. Prosecutions of immigration defendants in those districts rose 39 percent.

The U.S. Courts also reported:

  • District court criminal defendant filings increased 13 percent to 87,149.
  • District court civil filings rose 6 percent to 282,936.
  • Bankruptcy petitions declined 2 percent to 773,375, with fewer petitions filed in 60 of 90 bankruptcy courts.

Overall, both the Indiana northern and southern district courts saw an increase in filings of just 0.6 percent.

The statistics show the Southern District of Indiana remains one of the nation’s busiest on a weighted-caseload basis. For the year ending Sept. 30, 2018, the court had a total weighted caseload of 1,009 per authorized judgeship, the third-highest total of any district court in the nation. The court for the same period ending in 2017 had a total weighted caseload number of 983.

The Southern District had long operated under judicial emergency status, which is triggered when there is a vacancy on the court and the weighted caseload number exceeds 800 per active judge. The court no longer is designated as in judicial emergency after the appointments last year of judges James Sweeney and J.P Hanlon to fill vacancies on the bench.

The weighted caseload per judgeship in the Northern District of Indiana for the year ending Sept. 30, 2018 was 464.

Meanwhile, James C. Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, also highlighted the work of federal judiciary to address sexual harassment and workplace conduct issues. Duff’s annual report highlighted policy changes that flowed from the Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group, and he emphasized the courts’ collective space reduction of more than 1.1 million square feet, exceeding the nationwide goal of a 3 percent reduction.

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