Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court)
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court)
Table 1. Criminal Civil Rights Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during August 2023 the government reported 33 new civil rights prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 57.1 percent over the previous month.
The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with civil rights-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (see Table 1).
When monthly 2023 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was up (26.1%).
Prosecutions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 15.7 percent from levels reported in 2018.
Figure 1. Monthly Trends in Civil Rights Prosecutions
The decrease from the levels five years ago in civil rights prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1.
The vertical bars in Figure 1
represent the number of civil rights prosecutions of this type recorded on a month-to-month
basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court,
the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends.
The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so
that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.
Within the broad category of civil rights, cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.
Case types within civil rights are
Civil Rights - Other
Civil Rights - Law Enforcement
Civil Rights - Slavery/Involuntary Servitude
Civil Rights - Racial Violence, Including Hate Crimes
Civil Rights - Access to Clinic Entrances
Civil Rights - Hate Crimes Arising Out of Terrorist Attacks on the US
The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in August 2023 was for "Civil Rights-Law Enforcement", accounting for 54.5 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Civil Rights-Slavery/Invol. Servitude" (24.2%), "Civil Rights-Clinic Entrance Access" (12.1%), "Civil Rights-Other" (6.1%), "Civil Rights-Racial Violence" (3%).
See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for civil rights prosecutions in August 2023
was FBI accounting for 67 percent of prosecutions referred.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of civil rights referrals were:
DHS (24% ), Justice Other (3%).
See Figure 3.
Figure 2. Specific Types of Prosecutions
Figure 3. Prosecutions by Investigative Agency
Civil Rights Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In August 2023, 3 defendants in civil rights cases for these matters were filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts.
These courts handle less serious
misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In
addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before
an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter
starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court
where subsequent proceedings take place.
In the magistrate courts in August the most frequently cited lead charge was
Title 8 U.S.C Section 1324 involving "Bringing in and harboring certain aliens". This was the lead charge
for 66.7 percent of all magistrate filings in August.
Civil Rights Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In August 2023, 30 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during August there
were an additional 1 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate
courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information
was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and
therefore cover all matters filed in district court during August.
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of civil rights matters
filed in U.S. District Court during August 2023.
The Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson) — with 9 prosecutions — was the most active during August 2023.
The Northern District of California (San Francisco) and District of Massachusetts ranked 2nd.
Top Ranked District Judges
At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new civil rights crime cases of this type during August 2023 are shown in Table 4.
All 11 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of civil rights filings. (Because of ties, there were a total of 11 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)
Judge Timothy S. Hillman in the District of Massachusetts ranked 1st with 3 defendants in civil rights cases.
Judges James C. Dever, III in the Eastern District of North Carolina (Raleigh) and Frank William Volk in the Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston) ranked 2nd with 2 defendants in civil rights cases.