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The Legal Intelligencer
October 28, 2014

Report: Pa. Federal Judges Carrying Average Caseload
By Saranac Hale Spencer

Pennsylvania's three federal trial courts fall roughly in the middle of a ranking of the country's nearly 100 district courts for workload per judge. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, called TRAC, at Syracuse University issued a report earlier this month looking at the rise in federal case filings over the last 20 years and the distribution of them among the districts, but the weighting system it used for calculating the caseloads doesn't include multidistrict litigation, which is heavily represented in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Eastern District was ranked at No. 53 in the report, behind the Middle District, which was ranked 50th, and ahead of the Western District, which was ranked 60th. Sue Long, a professor at Syracuse University who worked on the TRAC report, explained the decision to exclude MDLs from the caseload calculation because they're made up of multiple cases, but handled as a single case so there's no way to measure their impact in a straightforward way. "It is this oddball animal," she said. The basic thrust of the report was aimed at weighing the effect of an increase in filings over the last two decades on a court system that has outpaced the number of judges allotted by Congress. The number of cases filed has risen 28 percent since 1993, but the number of federal judges appointed to handle them has only risen 4 percent in that time, according to the report. "As a consequence, the time required for handling both civil and criminal cases has increased," according to the report. "Since the growth in incoming federal matters varies greatly in different parts of the country, the resulting workloads for the judges also vary widely. In some districts, for example, the per-judge workload is now four times heavier than the average for the nation."

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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