Civil Filings for August 2012
Table 1: Civil Filings
The latest available data from the federal courts show that during August 2012 the government reported 23,221 new civil filings.
According to the case-by-case information
analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number
is up 5.7% over the previous month when the number of civil filings of this type totaled
The comparisons of the number of civil filings are based on case-by-case court records which were compiled and analyzed by TRAC (see Table 1).
When monthly 2012 civil filings of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, their number was down (-5.8%).
Civil filings for August 2012 are higher than they were for the same period five years ago.
Overall, the data show that civil filings of this type are up 7.9% from levels reported in August 2007.
Figure 1: Civil Filings over the last 5 years
The long term trend in civil filings for these matters going back five years
is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1
represent the number of civil filings of this type recorded each
month. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so that natural
fluctuations are smoothed out.
One-year and five-year change comparisons are based upon the moving averages.
Types of filings
Cases were classified by the federal courts into general types.
The single largest number of civil filings of these matters through August 2012 was for "Prisoner Petitions", accounting for 20.4% of civil filings.
As shown in Figure 2, additional categories with substantial numbers of civil filings were "Civil Rights " (13.8%) , "Torts - Personal Injury - Product Liability" (12.8%), "Contract" (10.7%), "Labor" (6.5%).
Within limits set by Congress and the Constitution, the federal district courts have jurisdiction to hear cases falling under any one of several categories.
The single largest number of civil filings of these matters through August 2012 was under the classification "Federal Question", accounting for 48.1% of civil filings.
As shown in Figure 2, additional categories with substantial numbers of civil filings were "Diversity" (28.3%) , "U.S. Government Defendant" (13.4%), "U.S. Government Plaintiff" (2.3%).
Figure 2: Civil filings by general types
Figure 3: Jurisdiction
for civil filings
Rankings: Specific Nature of Suits
Court filings are also classified based upon the specific nature of the suit. Table 2 shows the top nature of suit categories recorded in the matters
filed during August 2012
Table 2: Top district filed
"Personal Injury- Product Liability" was the most frequent recorded nature of suit category.
"Personal Injury- Product Liability" was ranked 3rd a year ago, while it was the 3rd most frequently invoked five years ago.
Ranked 2nd in frequency was the nature of suit category "General Prisoner Petitions".
"General Prisoner Petitions" was ranked 2nd a year ago, while it was the 1st most frequently invoked five years ago.
Ranked 3rd was "Civil Rights".
"Civil Rights" was ranked 5th a year ago, while it was the 5th most frequently invoked five years ago.
Among these top nature of suit categories, the one showing the greatest
increase in civil filings—up 61.0 percent—compared to one year ago was
"Motions to Vacate Sentence".
This was the same category that had the largest increase—123.4%—when compared with five years ago.
Again among the top ten nature of suit categories, the one showing the sharpest
decline in civil filings compared to one year ago—down 15.2 percent—was
This was the same statute that had the largest decrease—47.6%—when compared with five years ago.
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
Relative to population, the volume of civil matters of this type filed in federal district courts during August 2012 was 75.6 per every million persons in the United States.
One year ago the relative number of filings was 79.4.
Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of civil filings in
each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per one million people)
The Southern District of West Virginia—with 1,197.4 civil filings as compared with 75.6 civil filings per one million people in the United States—was the most active through August 2012.
The District of Washington, D.C. ranked 2nd.
The District of Washington, D.C. was ranked 3rd a year ago as well as five years ago.
The Southern District of Illinois now ranks 3rd.
The Southern District of Illinois was ranked 2nd a year ago.
Recent entries to the top 10 list were Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth), Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston) and Eastern District of Texas (Tyler), now ranked 4th, 1st and 8th. These districts ranked
16th, 19th and 25th one year ago and 54th, 16th and 17th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of civil filings
compared to one year ago—1232.5 percent—was Southern District of West Virginia.
This was the same district that had the largest increase—1354.5%—when compared with five years ago.
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of civil filings—74.8 percent—was Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
But over the past five years, Eastern District of Louisiana showed the largest drop—85.5 percent.
Report Generated: September 25, 2012