Expeditiousnesses and Delay in State Courts: An Exploration of Case Processing Time in Civil Trials

45 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2010 Last revised: 16 Jul 2010

Thomas H. Cohen

Government of the United States of America - Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

Date Written: July 1, 2010

Abstract

The issue of how long it takes for America’s courts to process civil cases dates back to colonial times. Although civil case delay has garnered a great deal of attention, most empirical efforts to analyze this topic occurred over twenty years ago and were limited in geographic scope. This paper attempts to update and enhance our understanding of civil case processing time by exploring factors related to disposition time in civil cases concluded by trial in a national sample of courts located in 156 urban, suburban and rural jurisdictions. The article applies multilevel models to examine both the effects of case and litigant characteristics as well as the influence of locale on case processing time. Results show that the legal issues adjudicated at trial, the type of trial (bench/jury), litigant characteristics, post-trial activity, and alternative dispute resolution referrals are related to longer case processing times. The models also show locale exerting a significant influence on case processing time. This effort to empirically explore disposition time provides scholars, policymakers, and court personnel with information that could be used to assess what types of reform efforts might result in more expeditious case resolution and hence, speedier justice.

Keywords: Civil Trials, Case Processing Time

JEL Classification: K41

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Thomas H., Expeditiousnesses and Delay in State Courts: An Exploration of Case Processing Time in Civil Trials (July 1, 2010). 5th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1633501 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1633501

Thomas H. Cohen (Contact Author)

Government of the United States of America - Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts ( email )

One Columbus Circle N.E.
Washington, DC 20544
United States

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