How Many Court Cases Are Filed Each Year? (2024)

Explore the annual caseload of the U.S. federal judiciary and its impact on justice and the rule of law in this insightful article.

Research Team


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Number of Court Cases Filed in the United States from 2014 to 2023

The Role of Federal Judges and Jurisdiction

Before delving into the statistics, it's important to understand the role of United States federal judges and the concept of jurisdiction, which gives federal courts the authority to hear and decide cases. Federal judges preside over a wide range of cases, from civil disputes to criminal trials, and their decisions have a profound impact on individuals and society as a whole.

Examining the Caseload

To gain insights into the caseload of the federal judiciary, we turn to the Federal Judicial Caseload Statistics for the year 2023, compiled by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. These statistics provide a comprehensive overview of the workload across various federal court levels, including appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts, as well as the probation and pretrial services systems.

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Key Findings

  • Filings in the 12 regional courts of appeals decreased by 5% to 40,681, driven by lower filings of appeals of administrative agency decisions, criminal appeals, prisoner petitions, and private civil appeals.
  • Bankruptcy appeals filings increased by 48%, and filings of original proceedings and miscellaneous applications rose by 4%.
  • Civil appeals declined by 957 cases to 21,837.
  • Prisoner petitions and private civil appeals decreased by 5% and 6%, respectively, while U.S. civil appeals increased by 1%.
  • Criminal appeals decreased by 4% to 9,894, primarily due to an 11% reduction in appeals related to drug crimes and an 18% decline in appeals addressing immigration offenses.
  • Appeals of administrative agency decisions fell by 22% to 4,450, largely due to fewer appeals of decisions by the Board of Immigration Appeals.
  • Original proceedings and miscellaneous applications increased by 4% to 3,520, mainly due to a rise in second or successive motions for writs of habeas corpus.

Terminated and Pending Court Cases

Number of Terminated and Pending Court Cases, 2012-2023

Pending cases includes 12-Month Periods Ending March 31

Source: Administrative Office of the United States Courts

The chart depicts trends in court cases, with "pending" referring to cases in the 12 months ending March 31. A peak in terminated cases was observed in 2017, followed by a steady decline. Similarly, the volume of pending cases has also been gradually decreasing, indicating an overall reduction in court case backlogs and possibly enhanced judicial efficiency over the years.


The annual caseload of the United States federal judiciary is subject to various factors, including legal trends, societal events, and changes in federal policies. These statistics highlight the dynamic nature of the federal court system and its adaptation to evolving circumstances.

Federal judges, through their dedicated service, continue to ensure that justice is served in accordance with the law and jurisdiction granted by the Constitution and federal statutes.

Disclaimer: This summary and its statistics on federal judges and jurisdiction for 2023 are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the latest trends or changes. The data does not constitute legal advice or a comprehensive analysis.

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