Sources and datasets on American Trial Trends

Sources, with links where available.  Most (though not all) of the sources for which there are no links are on reserve in the library; this is noted and the call numbers listed for these items.  

Quick Links

I. Nationwide Federal Court Data

A.  The Administrative Office Civil Terminations Database


1.  As published: Judicial Business of the U.S. Courts - Caseload Statistics

2.  In raw form:

Raw Data in Stata format


Also available year by year, in SPSS format, from the ICPSR (
The study numbers are: 1970-2000: Study 8429; 2001: Study 3415; 2002: Study 4059; 2003: Study 4026; 2004: Study 4348

3.  In web-queryable form: Teddy. Query engine sponsored by Ted Eisenberg and Kevin Clermont, Cornell Law School

4.  Related data:

  • Selected caseload statistics, 1988-2004 (some are 1977-2004): website.
  • Determinants of Case Growth in Federal District Courts in the United States, 1904-2002 (ICPSR 3987)
  • Federal Court Cases, 1962-1964 (ICPSR 7245)

  5.  Articles/Studies using AO data:

  • Marc Galanter, The Vanishing Trial: An Examination of Trials and Related Matters in Federal and State Courts, 1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 459 (2004).
  • Marc Galanter, The Hundred-Year Decline of Trials and the Thirty Years of War, 57 Stan. L. Rev. 1255 (2005).
  • Gillian K. Hadfield, Where Have All the Trials Gone? Settlements, Nontrial Adjudications, and Statistical Artifacts in the Changing Disposition of Federal Civil Cases, 1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 705 (2004).
  • Gillian K. Hadfield,  Exploring Economic and Democratic Theories of Civil Litigation: Differentiating Between Individual and Organizational Litigants in the Assessment of the Changing Disposition of Federal Civil Trials, 57 Stan. L. Rev. 1275 (2005)
  • Margo Schlanger, Inmate Litigation, 116 Harv. L. Rev. 1555 (2003). (Note: pdf version provided does not use the final pagination; please see published version for precise citation). Summary | PDF | Appendix
  • Theodore Eisenberg & Margo Schlanger, "The Reliability of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts Dasabase: An Initial Empirical Analysis," 78 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1455 (2003). Summary | PDF


Click here for a list of all BJS datasets archived at ICPSR,


1.  Tort trials concluded in Federal district courts

a.  Raw data:
See I.A.2, above.

b.  Published reports

2.  Civil rights complaints (non-inmate)

a.  Raw data:
Federal Justice Statistics Program Data, 1978-1994 (ICPSR 9296)

b.  Published reports

3.  Inmate cases

a.  Raw data
See I.A.2, above, and the Technical Appendix to Schlanger, Inmate Litigation.

b.  Published reports

4.  Criminal Data, Including on Trials

  1.  Raw data:

  2.  Published Bureau of Justice Statistics Reports

      1.  Electronic versions:

     2.  Paper versions only (available in the library on reserve):

  • Federal Criminal Case Processing 1982-91, with preliminary data for 1992, November, 1993 NCJ 144526
  • Federal Criminal Case Processing 1980-90, with preliminary data for 1991, September, 1992 NCJ 136945
  • Federal Criminal Case Processing 1980-89, with preliminary data for 1990, October, 1991 NCJ 130526
  • Federal Criminal Case Processing 1980-87, with preliminary data for 1988, May, 1990 NCJ 120069
     3. Other articles and reports
  • Terence Dunworth & Charles D. Weisselberg, Felony Cases and the Federal Courts: The Guidelines Experience, 66 S. Cal. L. Rev. 99 (1992)
  • Gerald W. Heaney, The Reality of Guidelines Sentencing: No End to Disparity, 28 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 161 (1991).
  • United States Sentencing Comm’n, The Federal Sentencing Guidelines: A Report on the Operation of the Guidelines System and Short-Term Impacts on Disparity in Sentencing, Use of Incarceration, and Prosecutorial Discretion and Plea Bargaining (1991).



1.  Raw data: 

  • Federal Court Cases: Integrated Data Base (See I.A.2, above), 1994-2003: ICPSR study nos. 4303-4306, 4086, 4088, 4249, 4251, 4252

2.  Published reports

  • Elizabeth Warren, Vanishing Trials: The Bankruptcy Experience,1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 913 (2004).


1.  Raw data:

2.  Published reports

  • Janet Cooper Alexander, Do the Merits Matter? A Study of Settlements in Securities Class Actions, 43 Stan. L. Rev. 497 (1991)



1.  Raw data:   Unavailable

2.  Published reports

  • Joe S. Cecil, Dean P. Miletech & George Cort, Federal Judicial Center, Trends in Summary Judgment Practice: A Preliminary Analysis (Nov. 2001).
  • Stephen B. Burbank, Vanishing Trials and Summary Judgment in Federal Civil Cases: Drifting Toward Bethlehem to Gomorrah,1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 591 (2004).



1. Raw data:
Federal Judicial Center's data on 54 district court's use of ADR referrals (38 districts are complete for 1998-2005).  Data made available courtesy of the Federal Judicial Center.

2.  Published reports
Donna Stienstra, Demonstrating the Possibilities of Providing Mediation Early and by Court Staff: The Western District of Missouri’s Early Assessment Program, in Court-Annexed Mediation: Critical Perspectives on Selected State and Federal Programs (Edward J. Bergman & John G. Bickerman eds., 1998 A.B.A. Sec. Disp. Resol. 251).



  • General Accounting Office and federal boards of contract appeals:  Steven L. Schooner, Fear of Oversight: The Fundamental Failure of Businesslike Government,50 Am. U. L. Rev. 627, 644–47 (2001) (and sources cited)
  • ALJ hearings generally (Social Security, Veterans' Board of Appeals, EEOC, INS): Judith Resnick, Migrating, Morphing, and Vanishing: The Empirical and Normative Puzzles of Declining Trial Rates in Courts,1 J. Emp. Legal Stud. 783, 796-804 (2004) (and sources cited)
  • Social Security Administration hearings: Paul R. Verkuil & Jeffrey S. Lubbers, Alternative Approaches to Judicial Review of Social Security Disability Cases,55 Admin. L. Rev. 731, 738 (2003).
  • Non-ALJ hearings:  John H. Frye III, Survey of Non-ALJ Hearing Programs in the Federal Government,44 Admin. L. Rev. 261 (1992).

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II. II. Nationwide State Court Data




Click here for an overview: Each linked publication includes numerous tables, available if you follow the link in worksheet format.

1.  Raw data

2.  Reports: All civil trials

3.  Reports: Contract trials

4.  Reports: Tort trials

B.  NATional Center for State Courts, Court Statistics Project:


See posted trial trends data

1. Raw data (data are generously made available by the Court Statistics Project of the National Center for State Courts).

2.  Other data (not available in electronic form)

3.  Articles and reports

  • Brian J. Ostrom, Shauna M. Strickland & Paula L. Hannaford-Agor, Examining Trial Trends in State Courts: 1976-2002,1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 755 (2004).
  • Theodore Eisenberg et al, Litigation Outcomes in State and Federal Courts: A Statistical Portrait,19 Seattle U. L. Rev. 433 (1996)

C.  State Court Criminal Trials


1.  Raw data

2.  BJS Publications

D.  Other available data


  • State Court Statistics 2002 (ICPSR 3990)
  • State Court Statistics, 1985-2001 (ICPSR 9266)

E.  Alternative Dispute Resolution


  • Thomas J. Stipanowich, ADR and the “Vanishing Trial”: The Growth and Impact of “Alternative Dispute Resolution,”1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 843 (2004). (See especially n. 73 for many many citations)
  • Resolutions Systems Institute online resource center:

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III. Studies with More Limited Geographical Reach


A.  RAND Institute of Civil Justice.


The RAND ICJ jury verdict database includes all state trial courts of general jurisdiction in the states of California and New York; Cook County, Illinois (Chicago); the St. Louis, Missouri, metropolitan area; and Harris County, Texas (Houston), from 1985 on.

1.  Raw Data, available via ICPSR (Unfortunately, only some of the RAND data are publicly available in raw form)

  • Jury Verdicts Database for Cook County, Illinois and All Counties in California, 1960-1984 (ICPSR 6232)
  • Survey of Tort Litigants in Three State Courts, 1989-1990 (ICPSR 9699) [NOT SURE HOW RELEVANT THIS IS]
  • Deborah Hensler et al., Rand Survey of Compensation for Accidental Injuries in the United States, 1988-1989 (ICPSR 3084)

2.  RAND Reports

A full annotated bibliography of ICJ reports is here.  The most relevant reports seem to be:

  • Erik Moller, Trends in Civil Jury Verdicts Since 1985 (RAND MR-694-ICJ, 1996).  All civil jury verdicts reached from 1985 to 1994 in state courts of general jurisdiction in 15 jurisdictions.  (On reserve, KFM 8972 M64 1996)
  • Erik Moller, Nicholas M. Pace, Stephen J. Carroll, Punitive Damages in Financial Injury Verdicts (RAND MR 889-ICJ, 1997), available here.
  • Erik Moller, Nicholas Pace, Stephen Carroll, Punitive Damages in Financial Injury Jury Verdicts (RAND MR-888-ICJ, 1997).  Analyzes the period 1985 through 1994. (On reserve, KF 1251 M66 1997)
  • Mark A. Peterson, Civil Juries in the 1980s: Trends in Jury Trials and Verdicts in California and Cook County, Illinois (RAND R-3466, 1987). (on Reserve, KF 8972.Z95 P48)
  • Mark A. Peterson, A Summary of Research Results: Trends and Patterns in Civil Jury Verdicts, (RAND P-7222, 1986) (originally presented as testimony before the Subcommittee on Oversight of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means).  Draws on analysis of 20 years of civil jury verdicts in Cook County, Illinois, and San Francisco, California, focusing on trends and patterns over time, and on how the type of liability, nature and circumstances of injury, and characteristics of plaintiffs and defendants affect the outcomes of civil jury trials. (on Reserve, KFI 1799.C62 A637 1986)
  • Audrey Chin and Mark A. Peterson, Deep Pockets, Empty Pockets: Who Wins in Cook County Jury Trials (RAND R-3249, 1985). Examines how different types of parties fared in over 9,000 civil jury trials in Cook County, Illinois, between 1959 and 1979, building on two previous ICJ studies of civil jury trials. (on Reserve, KFI 1799.C6 A63)
  • Mark A. Peterson, Compensation of Injuries: Civil Jury Verdicts in Cook County (RAND R-3011, 1984). Describes types of injuries and losses claimed by plaintiffs, changes in claims during the 1960s and 1970s, and relationships between juries' decisions and various factors in the cases. (On reserve, KFI 1799 .C6 A655 1984)
  • Michael G. Shanley, Mark A. Peterson, Comparative Justice: Civil Jury Verdicts in San Francisco and Cook Counties, 1959-1980 (RAND R-3006, 1983). Describes San Francisco jury trials and jury verdicts during the 20-year period from 1960 through 1979, and compares trends and patterns with those found in Cook County, Illinois.  (On reserve, KF 8990 .Z95 S53 1983)
  • Mark A. Peterson, The Civil Jury: Trends in Trials and Verdicts, Cook County, Illinois, 1960-1979 (RAND R-2881, 1982).  Presents the results of an extensive examination of the decisions made by litigants, courts, and juries in 9,000 civil jury trials over a 20-year period. (on Reserve, KFI 1799.C62 A63 1982)

B.  Other Studies


1.  Raw Data

  • Federal District Court Civil Decisions, 1981-1987: Detroit, Houston, and Kansas City (ICPSR 9367)

2.  Published articles, etc.

  • Lawrence M. Friedman & Robert V. Percival, A Tale of Two Courts: Litigation in Alameda and San Benito Counties,10 Law & Soc’y Rev. 267 (1975) (sampled civil cases in two California counties from 1890 to 1970)
  • Molly Selvin & Patricia A. Ebener, Managing the Unmanageable: A History of Civil Delay in the Los Angeles Superior Court (1984) (study of civil litigation in L.A. Superior Court; 1915-1940 compared to 1950-1979). (On reserve, KFC 956 .S45 1984)
  • John Twohig, Carl Baar, Anna Myers & Anne Marie Predko, Empirical Analysis of Civil Cases Commenced and Cases Tried in Toronto 1973-1994, in 1 Rethinking Civil Justice: Research Studies for the Civil Justice Review 77 (Ontario Law Reform Commission  1996).  (On reserve, KEO 1054 .R47 1996)
  • Stephen Daniels, Continuity and Change in Patterns of Case Handling:  A Case Study of Two Rural Counties,19 L & Soc’y Rev. 381, 401 (criminal trials in two Illinois counties from 1970 to 1940-60).
  • Milton Heumann, Plea Bargaining  27-28 (1978) (criminal trials in Conn. from 1880s to 1970s) (On reserve, KF 9654 .H4)
  • Wayne McIntosh, The Appeal of Civil Law (1990) (study of St. Louis Circuit Court from 1820-1970) (On reserve, KFX 2283.5 .M35)

3.  Examinations/Explanations of the Vanishing Trial Phenomenon

  • American College of Trial Lawyers, The "Vanishing Trial:" The College, The Profession, The Civil Justice System (Oct. 2004). Link; archived copy.
  • Stephen B. Burbank, Keeping Our Ambition Under Control: The Limits of Data and Inference in Searching for the Causes and Consequences of Vanishing Trials in Federal Court,1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 571 (2004).
  • Shari Seidman Diamond & Jessica Bina, Puzzles about Supply-Side Explanations for Vanishing Trials: A New Look at Fundamentals,1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 637 (2004).
  • John Lande, Shifting the Focus from the Myth of ‘The Vanishing Trial’ to Complex Conflict Management Systems, or I Learned Almost Everything I need to Know about Conflict Resolution from Marc Galanter, Cardozo J. Conflict Res. (2005)
  • John Lande, “The Vanishing Trial” report: An Alternative View of the Data,Disp. Resol. Mag, Summer 2004, at 19.
  • Stephan Landsman, So What? Possible Implications of the Vanishing Trial Phenomenon,1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 973 (2004).
  • Carrie Menkel-Meadow,Is the Adversary System Really Dead?  Dilemmas of Legal Ethics as Legal Institutions and Roles Evolve, in Current Legal Problems (Jane Holder, et al. eds., 2004).
  • Bruce E. Meyerson,The Dispute Resolution Profession Should Not Celebrate the Vanishing Trial,  Cardozo J. Conflict Res. (2005)
  • Judith Resnik, Migrating, Morphing, and Vanishing: The Empirical and Normative Puzzles of Declining Trial Rates in Courts,1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 783 (2004).
  • Stephen C. Yeazell, Getting What We Asked For, Getting What We Paid For, and Not Liking What We Got: The Vanishing Civil Trial,1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 943 (2004).

4.  Articles on Topics Related to the Vanishing Trial Phenomenon

  • Catherine Albiston, The Rule of Law and the Litigation Process: The Paradox of Losing by Winning, 33 Law & Soc’y Rev. 869 (1999)
  • Theodore Eisenberg, Appeal Rates and Outcomes in Tried and Nontried Cases: Further Exploration of Anti-Plaintiff Appellate Outcomes,1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 659 (2004).
  • Lawrence M. Friedman, The Day Before Trials Vanished,1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 689 (2004).
  • Chris Guthrie, Procedural Justice Research and the Paucity of Trials,2002 J. Disp. Resol. 127.
  • Patrick Higginbotham, So Do We Still Call Them Trial Courts?, 55 SMU L. Rev. 1405 (2002)
  • Herbert M. Kritzer, Adjudication to Settlement: Shading in the Gray, 70 Judicature 161 (1986)
  • Herbert M. Kritzer, Disappearing Trials? A Comparative Perspective,1 J. Emp. Leg. Stud. 735 (2004).
  • Kevin C. McMunigal, The Costs of Settlement: The Impact of Scarcity of Adjudication on Litigating Lawyers, 37 UCLA L. Rev. 833 (1990)
  • Arthur Miller, The Pretrial Rush to Judgment: Are the ‘Litigation Explosion,” “Liability Crisis,” and Efficiency Clichés Eroding Our Day in Court and Jury Trial Commitments,78 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 982 (2003).
  • Seth Seabury, Nocholas M. Pace & Robert T. Reville, Forty Years of Civil Jury Verdicts,1 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 1 (2004)
  • Trubek et al, The Costs of Ordinary Litigation,31 UCLA L. Rev. 72 (1983).

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