SCOTUS, district courts see increased filings in last year

The number of cases filed in the United States Supreme Court and federal district courts increased in the last year, while the regional courts of appeal saw a slight filing decrease, according to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s 2019 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary. 

Supreme Court filings in the 2018 term rose to 6,442, up slightly from 6,315 in the 2017 term. That led to 73 arguments, 69 dispositions and 66 signed opinions in the 2018 term, compared to 69 arguments, 63 dispositions and 59 signed opinions in the 2017 term.

In the regional appellate courts, filings fell by 2% between 2018 and 2019, with 49,276 and 48,486 cases filed in those years, respectively.

In the district courts, cases involving disputes between citizens of different states increased by 18%, while personal injuries cases climbed 28%. Total district court civil filings increased 5%, rising to 297,877 from 282,936 in 2019.

Concerning immigration offenses, the number of charged defendants in district courts increased by 13%, largely in response to an 81% increase in defendants accused of improper entry by an alien. Southwestern border districts received 81% of national immigration crime defendant filings.

Other takeaways from the report include:

  • The number of district court drug crime defendants grew 5%, accounting for 28% of total filings;
  • Defendants accused of crimes associated with marijuana decreased 28%;
  • Defendants prosecuted for firearms and explosives offenses increased 8%, continuing a growing trend beginning in 2014; and
  • Bankruptcy court filings increased by less than 1%.

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