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Reports and Studies

Below is a list of a number of past published studies conducted by the Research Division. Some Center reports are not published or made publicly available due to restrictions in place from the source of the research request. Most research reports can be downloaded and in some instances, a hardcopy publication can be requested.

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Report on Federal–State Court Cooperation: A Survey of Federal Chief District Judges

In 2016, at the request of the Judicial Conference Committee on Federal–State Jurisdiction, a survey was sent to all chief federal district judges asking about cooperation with their state judge counterparts. The chief district judges were asked about topics and activities that could benefit from federal–state court cooperation, whether they collaborated with their state judge counterparts on the topics, and whether they were interested in additional cooperation. 

[This report was written and presented to the Committee in 2016, and approved for release in 2017.]

April 3, 2017
Patent Pilot Program: Five-Year Report

The Patent Pilot Program (PPP), a ten-year pilot program addressing the assignment of patent cases in certain U.S. district courts, was established on January 4, 2011, by Pub. L. No. 111-349. At the request of the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, the Federal Judicial Center has been studying the PPP since the program's inception. This midpoint report presents key findings from the first five years of the program, gathering data for all patent cases filed on or after the individual PPP start date designated by each of the 13 current pilot courts through January 5, 2016. In that time, just over 12,000 patent cases were filed in the participating pilot districts.

April 1, 2016
Video Recording Courtroom Proceedings in United States District Courts: Report on a Pilot Project

At the request of the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, the Federal Judicial Center undertook an evaluation of a pilot program allowing video recording of certain civil proceedings in federal district courts. The pilot program, in which participation was voluntary, ran from July 18, 2011, through July 17, 2015, in fourteen pilot courts. The FJC evaluation looked at how the pilot was implemented in each court; the number and type of proceedings and cases recorded; the reasons why some judges and some parties declined to participate;  the experiences and views of judges, attorneys, and court staff who participated in the program; the extent to which recordings were viewed, who viewed them, and why; and the costs of implementing the program. This report describes the research approaches used, limitations of the pilot program and research design, and results from the FJC evaluation.

March 15, 2016
Review of Scientific Literature on the Reliability of Present Sense Impressions and Excited Utterances

This review of scientific literature regarding the reliability of present sense impressions and excited utterances as it pertains to the Federal Rules of Evidence was presented as a memorandum to the Advisory Committee on Rules of Evidence.

March 5, 2016
Survey of Harm to Cooperators: Final Report

At the request of the Court Administration and Case Management Committee, the Criminal Law Committee, and the Committee on Defender Service, the FJC surveyed federal district judges, U.S. Attorney’s Offices, federal defenders, Criminal Justice Act (CJA) district panel representative’s offices, and chief probation and pretrial services offices about harm or threat of harm to government cooperators. Respondents reported a minimum of 571 instances of harm to defendants/offenders and witnesses in the past three years. Cases often involved harm to both defendants/offenders and witnesses. Respondents most often reported threats of physical harm to defendants/offenders or witnesses and to friends or family of defendants/offenders or witnesses. Defendants were most likely to be harmed or threatened when in some type of custody, while witnesses were either in pretrial detention or not in custody at the time of harm or threat. Respondents frequently reported court documents or court proceedings as the source for identifying cooperators. Concerns about harm or threat affected the willingness of both defendants/offenders and witnesses to cooperate with the government in the past three years. Overall, respondents generally agreed that harm to cooperators was a significant problem and that more needed to be done to protect cooperators from harm.

February 12, 2016
Unredacted Social Security Numbers in Federal Court PACER Documents

This report summarizes a Center study of instances of individuals’ unredacted Social Security numbers appearing in documents filed in federal district and bankruptcy courts in November 2013 and available through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service. The presence of Social Security numbers for approximately 75% of these individuals appears to violate rules adopted by the Judicial Conference of the United States. 


October 25, 2015
Report on Pilot Project Regarding Initial Discovery Protocols for Employment Cases Alleging Adverse Action

A brief report on case-processing times, case outcomes, and motions practice in employment discrimination cases included in a pattern discovery pilot, compared with a nationwide random sample of similar cases. The report finds that case-processing times did not differ between the pilot and comparison cases, but that motions practice was greater in the comparison cases.

For earlier work by the Employment Protocols Committee, see Pilot Project Regarding Initial Discovery Protocols for Employment Cases Alleging Adverse Action (November 2011).

October 1, 2015
Fourth Report Pursuant to Section 202(e) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act Pub. L. No. 111-203 (2010)

In response to the global economic turmoil that began in late 2007, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Act) introduced a broad array of regulatory reforms in the financial sector. This report focuses on the reforms in Title II of the Act, which are intended to mitigate risks posed by the failure of systemically important financial institutions. Title II directs the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC) to study the resolution of these institutions and report on its findings. The AOUSC submitted its first three annual reports pursuant to 12 U.S.C. § 5382(e) on July 21, 2011 (First Report), July 17, 2012 (Second Report), and July 19, 2013 (Third Report). The AOUSC submits this report in compliance with the directive of section 5382(e). Beginning in July 2015, the AOUSC is required to submit reports every five years. This report to Congress was prepared with the assistance of the Federal Judicial Center.

After an introduction in Part I, the report proceeds as follows:

  • Part II provides an executive summary of the report’s primary research, findings, and analysis.
  • Part III describes the AOUSC’s mandate under section 5382(e) of the Act and briefly summarizes the First, Second, and Third Reports, as well as the scope of this fourth report.
  • Part IV focuses on the key issue explored in this report: the provisions of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that permit a debtor to sell all or substantially all of its assets in a chapter 7 or chapter 11 bankruptcy case. The report reviews critiques of these provisions, including proposals for reform recommended by the American Bankruptcy Institute Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11 (ABI Commission), and compares them to similar mechanisms for resolving financial distress through transfers under the Act and certain bills introduced in both houses of Congress in 2014. The latter mechanisms are commonly referred to as “single point of entry” proposals. This section also describes and utilizes certain original empirical data generated by the Federal Judicial Center (FJC) for purposes of the AOUSC reports under the Act.
  • Part V synthesizes the various proposals for rehabilitating or resolving a distressed company through a sale process.
July 9, 2015
Jurors' and Attorneys' Use of Social Media During Voir Dire, Trials, and Deliberations: A Report to the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management

This report summarizes the results of a Center survey of district court judges to assess the frequency with which jurors used social media to communicate during trials and deliberations in the past two years, and to identify strategies for curbing this behavior. The survey was conducted at the request of the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management. The survey also assessed the frequency with which attorneys use social media to conduct research on potential jurors during voir dire. The survey is a follow-up to one conducted in 2011 on jurors’ use of social media; attorneys’ use of social media was not addressed in the original survey.

January 1, 2014
Study of Class Action Objector Appeals in the Second, Seventh, and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals: Report to the Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules of the Judicial Conference of the United States

This report to the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules focused on class action objector appeals filed in the Second, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits from settlements approved by the district courts in class actions filed after January 1, 2008. The objector appeals studied were filed from January 1, 2008, through March 1, 2013, in the Seventh Circuit, through June 1, 2013, in the Second Circuit, and through July 1, 2013, in the Ninth Circuit. The study focused on the overall frequency of class action objector appeals during the study period, the final disposition of the class action objector appeals filed and no longer pending, and the prevalence of Appellate Rule 7 cost bonds imposed on the objector appeals identified.

October 1, 2013