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Caseloads: Federal Caseload Reports, 1802-1864

List of Suits Decided and Depending in the Courts of the United States , 26 February 1802, American State Papers , 10, Miscellaneous 1:319-25

This report superseded an earlier version presented to Congress in December 1801, correcting several errors and supplying information that was missing from the prior report. The document presented returns from the circuit courts and from the district courts in Maine, Kentucky, and Tennessee, which lacked circuit courts. The returns listed the number of common law, chancery, criminal, and admiralty suits instituted during each term of court from 1790 to 1801. The returns also provided the total number of cases instituted across the entire time, the number of cases concluded, and the number of cases still pending.

Message from the President of the United States Transmitting (Pursuant to a Resolution of the Senate, of the 18th January, 1819) A Report from the Secretary of State Together with the Returns of Causes Depending in the Courts of the United States, S. Doc. No. 134, 16th Cong., 1st Sess., 1820.

This 88-page report contained three tables showing the number of cases pending in each district court, in each circuit court, and the combined number of cases in the courts of each judicial district as of October 1, 1819. Each table broke the total number of cases down by the years in which they were commenced, and for each of those years gave the number of civil, criminal, and admiralty and maritime cases; the number of suits between citizens of different states; the number of suits to which the United States was a party; the number of original causes; and the number of cases removed by appeal or writ of error. The report also indicated that there were 80 suits pending on the docket of the Supreme Court on October 1, 1819, 20 of which involved the United States, and none of which were criminal in nature. The remainder of the report was not relevant to caseloads.

The 1820 report was missing data from the district courts in the District of Georgia, the District of Illinois, the District of New Hampshire, the Cape Fear and Pamptico Districts of North Carolina, the District of Ohio, and the Western District of Virginia, and from the circuit courts in the District of Georgia, the District of New Hampshire, the District of North Carolina, the District of Ohio, the District of South Carolina, and the Western District of Tennessee.

Message from the President of the United States, Transmitting, in Compliance with a Resolution of the House of Representatives of 13th January, 1825, A Statement of Convictions, Executions, and Pardons, Under the Authority of the Government of the United States, Since the Adoption of the Constitution , H.R. Exec. Doc. No. 146, 20th Cong., 2d Sess., 1829.

This 240-page report dealt exclusively with criminal cases in the federal courts from 1790 to 1827. The returns in the report were submitted by judicial district, rather than by court, so that most of the returns contained combined data for the district and circuit courts in each district. Each district was requested to submit four returns - prepared typically by the U.S. attorney, but sometimes by the clerk of court - with the first and fourth returns being directly relevant to caseloads, and the second and third returns dealing with fines and forfeitures for criminal offenses.

The first return from each district showed the number of people charged with criminal offenses in each year, broken down by the specific offense charged. The list of offenses differed somewhat between districts, but the return for the District of Maine provided a representative example, listing the offenses charged as murder on the high seas, assault, trespass, resisting the collector of customs, fraud by the keeper of a lighthouse, bribery, assuming to be a deputy collector, supplying the enemy, perjury, rescuing goods, receiving prisoners of war, passing an altered U.S. note, endeavoring to procure a revolt on the high seas, embezzlement of U.S. arms, refusing to aid a collector, resisting the execution of U.S. process, concealing deserters, smuggling, manslaughter, piracy, and engaging in the slave trade. The returns then showed, for each year, the number of defendants committed, bailed, tried, convicted, acquitted, pardoned, discharged for want of a prosecutor, discharged by nolle prosequi by order of the president, and discharged by nolle prosequi by order of the U.S. attorney. Other information, such as punishments inflicted and costs paid, was included as well. The fourth return from each district contained information on capital offenses, such as piracy and murder on the high seas, and showed the number of commitments, trials, convictions, and pardons for such offenses.

The report contained no returns from the Southern District of Alabama, the District of Connecticut, the District of Mississippi, the District of New Hampshire, and the District of North Carolina, and was missing the fourth return, concerning capital cases, from the District of Delaware and the Northern District of New York.

Report from the Secretary of State, in Compliance with a Resolution of the Senate, Showing the Number of Suits on the Trial Docket of each of the Circuit Courts of the United States, and the Number of Miles Travel of each Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States , S. Doc. No. 50, 25th Cong., 3rd Sess., 1839. Supplemented by Document Showing the Number of Suits on the Trial Docket of the Circuit and District Courts of the United States for the District of West Tennessee, During the Last Six Years , S. Doc. No. 183, 25th Cong., 3d Sess., 1839.

This report, 39 pages in length, began with a summary table giving the number of cases on the docket of each of the circuit courts, and the district courts exercising circuit court jurisdiction, for each term of court in the two years before the reports were submitted in 1838. The report then provided the returns from each court, most of which gave only the number of cases on the docket for each term, but some of which provided the names of the cases or the number of cases by categories such as common law and equity. The document concluded with a table showing the number of miles traveled by each justice of the Supreme Court while riding circuit, and included individual statements by the justices describing the specific routes they were required to travel and the distances of each.

The 1839 report was supplemented a short time later by a one-page statement regarding the number of suits on the dockets of the circuit and district courts of the Western District of Tennessee, to correct what the statement described as the "defective and meagre statement" that had been furnished previously.

This report did not contain returns from the District of Arkansas, the District of Columbia, the District of Connecticut, the District of Indiana, the District of Michigan, and the District of Ohio. The returns from the Districts of Louisiana and the Western District of Pennsylvania were incomplete, the latter omitting criminal cases and the former omitting cases prior to May Term 1837, records of which had been lost.

Report from the Secretary of State, in Compliance with a Resolution of the Senate, in Relation to the Operation of the Bankrupt Law , S. Doc. No. 19, 27th Cong., 3rd Sess., 1842.

This report regarding the 1841 bankruptcy statute (5 Stat. 44), spanned 194 pages and contained returns from each judicial district, indicating the number of petitions for bankruptcy filed in that district and the number of those petitions that were voluntary and involuntary. The returns provided further information that varied by district, but typically included the number of cases in which a decree of bankruptcy was granted, the number in which a certificate of discharge was granted, the number of discharges refused, the number of petitions for bankruptcy withdrawn, and the number of petitions for bankruptcy or discharge still pending.

Congress requested this report while considering a repeal of the bankruptcy law. In addition to soliciting caseload data, Congress asked that U.S. attorneys and judges provide their observations regarding the operation of the law and what might be done to improve it. Much of the report consisted of U.S. attorney and judge responses, which were interspersed with the caseload information. The report also contained local rules for bankruptcy cases in the district courts for the Districts of Connecticut and Kentucky, as well as an opinion from the district court for the District of Missouri holding the bankruptcy statute unconstitutional.

The 1842 report was missing returns from the Middle District of Alabama, the Eastern and Western Districts of Louisiana, the Northern District of Mississippi, the District of Missouri, and the District of North Carolina.

Letter from the Secretary of State, in Answer to Resolutions of the House of Representatives, Adopted the 29th of January and 25th March, 1844, Relative to the Application and Discharge of Persons Under the Bankrupt Law , H.R. Doc. No. 223, 29th Cong., 1st Sess., 1846. Supplemented by Letter from the Secretary of State Transmitting Statement Showing Proceedings Under the Bankrupt Act , H.R. Doc. No. 99, 29th Cong., 2d Sess., 1847.

This 44-page report, along with the 8-page supplement, contained information about proceedings held under the 1841 bankruptcy statute, which had been repealed in 1843. Included in the reports were returns from each judicial district showing the number of people who sought relief under the bankruptcy law; the number who were discharged from the payment of their debts; the number to whom discharge was refused; the number of cases still pending; and the aggregates of the number of creditors, the amount of debt owed, the value of property surrendered, the percentage of debts recovered by creditors, and the cost of judicial proceedings. Tables summarizing the data appeared at the end of the original and supplementary reports. The original report contained extracts of letters from several of the clerks of court providing further explanation regarding the information they had submitted.

The 1846 and 1847 bankruptcy reports did not contain returns from the Middle District of Alabama, the District of Delaware, the District of Georgia, the District of Indiana, the Western District of Louisiana, the District of Massachusetts, the Northern District of Mississippi, the District of Missouri, the District of North Carolina, and the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Message from the President of the United States Communicating a Report Showing the Operations of the Office of the Solicitor of the Treasury Since its Organization , S. Exec. Doc. No. 36, 30th Cong., 2nd Sess., 1849.

This 138-page report began with a description, submitted by the Solicitor of the Treasury, of the operations of the Solicitor's office from its establishment in 1830 until 1848. The solicitor's report was followed by an appendix consisting of 20 documents, 9 of which contained data concerning cases in federal courts involving the United States: suits on treasury transcripts; suits against banks; suits instituted to recover fines, penalties, and forfeitures; suits instituted on duty bonds; suits instituted against the United States to recover lands; miscellaneous suits, including those against collectors; number of suits in each of the several states; number of different kinds of suits; and number of suits brought in each year.

The last three of these nine documents, labeled as tables 6A, 6B, and 6C, provided the most general caseload information, with all three tables presenting data on suits instituted between 1830 and 1848 under the direction of the Solicitor of the Treasury or reported to the office, and breaking them down by state or territory, by type, and by year, respectively. The tables also included the numbers of suits decided for the United States, decided against the United States, remitted, and dismissed, as well as the amounts of money claimed and collected.

Letter from the Secretary of the Interior Transmitting a Tabular Statement, Showing the Number of Suits on the Dockets of the Respective Clerks of the United States Courts Since January 1, 1856 , H.R. Exec. Doc. No. 69, 35th Cong., 1st Sess., 1858 .

This report, four pages in length, showed for the circuit and district courts the number of cases on the docket as of January 1, 1856, the number of cases added during 1856, the number of cases disposed of during 1856, and the number of cases not disposed of as of January 1, 1857. Aggregates for each of these categories were included as well, but counted data from the territorial courts, many of which failed to report their caseload information. The data was reported by the clerks of each circuit and district court, and the reports from districts where one clerk served both courts presented combined statistics.

The report was also missing returns from the circuit courts in the District of New Jersey and the District of North Carolina, and the district courts in the Western District of Arkansas, the Northern District of California, the Northern District of Florida meeting at Apalachicola and St. Augustine, the District of Iowa, the Western District of Louisiana meeting at St. Joseph, the Eastern District of Missouri, the District of New Jersey, the Pamptico District of North Carolina, and the District of Wisconsin.

Report of the Secretary of the Interior, Transmitting, in Answer to a Resolution of the Senate, of April 4, 1864, a Statement in Regard to the Number of Cases Commenced and Pending in Each Circuit and District Court of the United States the First Day of January, 1864 , S. Exec. Doc. No. 1, 38th Cong., 2d Sess., 1864.

This three-page document contained a table showing, for each judicial district, the number of cases pending in the circuit courts on January 1, 1864; the number of cases commenced in the circuit courts during 1863; the number of cases pending in the district courts on January 1, 1864; the number of cases commenced in the district courts during 1863; the combined total of cases pending in the circuit and district courts on January 1, 1864; and the combined total of cases commenced in the circuit and district courts during 1863.

The report did not contain returns from the circuit courts in the Southern District of California, the Northern District of Florida, the District of Maryland, the Western District of Michigan, the Northern District of Ohio, and the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia. Returns were also missing from the district courts in the Northern District of Florida, the District of Iowa, the District of Maryland, the Western District of Michigan, the Northern District of Ohio, the Western District of Pennsylvania meeting at Williamsport, and the Eastern District of Tennessee.