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Every once in a while, we find ourselves on a federal government corner of the internet, and we usually are surprised to discover (or are reminded) that these webpages often have materials that are worth knowing about, even downright useful, for our type of practice. 

These sites are not always easy to navigate, however, so we put together some links that you may find handy one day.

The Federal Judicial Center

The first is the Federal Judicial Center’s site.  As they put it,

The Center educates federal judges and judiciary staff on law, case management, leadership, ethics, and court administration, using in-person programs, online resources, videos, and publications.

Do you want to know what your federal judges are being taught about case management, scientific evidence, appellate jurisdiction, mass torts, and litigation funding?  This is your place to find those nuggets of information.  Federal Judicial Center publications include:

The Federal Judicial Center and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts also maintain the “IDB”, a database of every federal district and appellate matter filed since 1977.  Did you strike out looking on Lexis or Westlaw matters to see if your assigned district court judge ever handled a particular type of case, say a product liability or Civil RICO case?  Search the database using “Nature of Suit” (for example, code 245 for “Tort Product Liability” or code 470 for “Civil (RICO)”) and add your relevant district and date limitations.  Get back a handful of results, pull the cases up in PACER and peruse for your judge and similarities to your case and issues.

The Federal Judicial Center also has a number of active projects that may result in significant publications or rules changes in the coming months and years, including:

  • Revising the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence;
  • Revising the Manual for Complex Litigation;
  • Examining whether the electronic filing deadline should be changed from midnight to 5 p.m. (Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!);
  • Case study research regarding practical problems stemming from consolidation of cases under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42 (consolidation of actions involving a common question of law or fact);
  • A study into how many additional 28 USC § 1292(b) interlocutory appeals would result if the federal rules permitted more interlocutory appeals from case-determinative MDL rulings; and
  • A study of the “incidence and duration” of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f) appeals from orders granting or denying class actions.

The Federal Judicial Center site also has its final report on what has been an area of interest on this blog, the “Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot” (“MIDP”) Project.  The MIDP was an experiment launched in the District of Arizona and the Northern District of Illinois to replace the ordinary initial disclosures required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1) with more onerous rules requiring:

  • Broad disclosure of all facts that are relevant to the parties’ claims and defenses, whether favorable or unfavorable, and regardless of whether the party intends to use the information in presenting their claims and defenses at trial;
  • The disclosures be made within a very short time after initiation of the case, regardless of pending motions to dismiss or other preliminary motions; and
  • Defendants to file answers regardless of whether a motion to dismiss or other preliminary motion was, or would be, filed. 

Early on, we had early concerns with the MIDP requirement that mandatory discovery exchanges had to occur regardless of whether a motion to dismiss was pending, in part because the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), informed federal courts that an inadequate complaint “does not unlock the doors of discovery.”  Fortunately attorney complaints led to a relaxation of the requirement of disclosures irrespective of pending motions to dismiss half-way through the pilot project. 

In the end, the Federal Judicial Center’s final report on the MIDP suggests that the pilot project was a bit of a dud:

The findings of the Center study are mixed. With respect to disposition times, pilot cases were resolved in [slightly –ed.] less time, all else equal, than non-pilot cases. Still, to the extent the pilot did result in shorter disposition times, neither attorneys for plaintiffs nor those for defendants were particularly enthusiastic about the pilot in their responses to the surveys.  

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

Our next government corner of the internet belongs to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (“AOC”).  Technically, all of is run by the AOC, but today we are interested in their “Analysis & Reports” pages.  This is where the data lives. 

How many federal civil trials were completed in 2023?  Only 3,303.  For the whole country! 

Does your federal district court judge leave a lot of fully-briefed motions pending without decision for more than six months?  Find the list sorted by district and judge name, and the reasons provided for the delay in ruling on each motion.

How many federal cases were pending as of last year?  A lot.  The Courts of Appeal seem to have it under control, the District Courts less so:


12-MONTH PERIODS ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 2014, 2019, 2022, AND 2023

  Judicial Caseload  2014  2019  2022  2023Percent Change Since 2014Percent Change Since 2019Percent Change Since 2022
U.S. Courts of Appeals       
Cases Filed54,98848,48641,83939,987-27.3-17.5-4.4
Cases Terminated55,21647,88944,90240,636-26.4-15.1-9.5
Cases Pending41,75138,83732,51232,039-23.3-17.5-1.5
U.S. District Courts       
Cases Filed295,310297,877274,771339,73115.014.123.6
Cases Terminated258,477311,900308,326293,67713.6-5.8-4.8
Cases Pending337,302357,566596,136642,01390.379.67.7


That is it for today’s tour of two federal government websites that we find interesting.  One of these days, we will do a tour of our favorite places on  Talk about a site with a lot of information, often buried in hard to find places!