Do Federal and State Courts Differ in How They Handle Civil Trial Litigation: A Portrait of Civil Trials in State and Federal District Courts
Thomas H. Cohen
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts: Office of Probation and Pretrial Services
June 28, 2006
2nd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper
Using data from the Civil Justice Survey of State Courts and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, this article compares general civil (tort, contract, and real property) jury trials concluded in a sample of state courts and all federal district courts in 1992, 1996, and 2001. The study's key findings are: (1) that the types of civil cases coming before state and federal juries differ substantially; (2) that overall plaintiff win rates are nearly the same in both state and federal courts; (3) that the damages awarded to plaintiffs in federal courts are substantially higher compared to their state counterparts; (4) that although the vast majority of jury trials take place in the state courts, the federal courts account for a substantial portion of damage awards, especially for product liability cases; (5) that state courts took substantially longer to dispose of civil jury trials than federal courts; and (6) that trend data show similar patterns of declining trials and stable plaintiff win rates in both court systems.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: civil justice, juries, state and federal courts
JEL Classification: K41, K10, K11, K12, K13working papers series
Date posted: July 5, 2006
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