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March 18, 2009

The latest data on the ever-growing federal criminal caseload

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts has recently issued this news release, titled "Workload of the Federal Courts Grows in Fiscal Year 2008."  Here are some details that should interest federal sentencing fans:

For FY 2008, the twelve-month period ending September 30, 2008, filings in the regional courts of appeals rose 5 percent to 61,104. The overall growth stemmed from increases in civil appeals of prisoner petitions, appeals of administrative agency decisions, involving the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and criminal appeals of drug cases....

Criminal appeals rose 4 percent to 13,667.  An amendment to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines issued in 2007 reduced penalties for most crack cocaine offenses, and affected the number of appeals in non-marijuana drug cases.

More appeals were filed by pro se litigants in 2008, rising 12 percent to 28,055.  The largest numeric increase was in pro se filings related to criminal appeals, which more than doubled. Pro se petitions filed by prisoners rose 9 percent to 14,993....

Criminal case filings in the U.S. district courts rose 4 percent in 2008 to 70,896, and the number of defendants climbed 3 percent to 92,355.  Increases occurred in cases related to immigration and sex offenses.

Immigration case filings jumped 27 percent to 21,313, and defendants in those cases rose 26 percent to 22,685.  The growth in immigration cases resulted mostly from filings addressing improper reentry by aliens and filings involving fraud and misuse of visa/permit.  The charge of improper reentry by an alien accounted for 73 percent of all immigration cases and 69 percent of immigration defendants.  Seventy-two percent of all immigration cases were filed in the five southwestern border districts — the District of Arizona, Southern District of California, District of New Mexico, and the Southern and Western Districts of Texas.

Sex offense case filings grew 9 percent to 2,674, and defendants in such cases climbed 7 percent to 2,760.  Within this category, sexually explicit material cases rose 10 percent to 1,691, and defendants in these cases climbed 10 percent to 1,708.

Overall, drug cases dropped 7 percent to 15,784, and defendants charged with drug crimes fell 3 percent to 28,932.  Fraud cases declined 4 percent to 7,746, and defendants in these cases dropped 1 percent to 10,680.  Filings of firearms cases fell 3 percent to 8,045, and defendants declined 4 percent to 9,068.

March 18, 2009 at 03:44 PM | Permalink

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