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Do Federal and State Courts Differ in How They Handle Civil Trial Litigation: A Portrait of Civil Trials in State and Federal District Courts

28 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2006  

Thomas H. Cohen

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

Date Written: June 28, 2006

Abstract

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.

Keywords: civil justice, juries, state and federal courts

JEL Classification: K41, K10, K11, K12, K13

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Thomas H., Do Federal and State Courts Differ in How They Handle Civil Trial Litigation: A Portrait of Civil Trials in State and Federal District Courts (June 28, 2006). 2nd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=912691 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.912691

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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