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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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2003-2004 District Court Case-Weighting Study: Final Report to the Subcommittee on Judicial Statistics of the Committee on Judicial Resources of the Judicial Conference of the United States

Different types of cases impose different work demands on judges. Case weights are a measure of the average time consumed by cases of one type relative to other types. In 2003-2004, the Federal Judicial Center conducted a study to update existing weights for federal district courts using an event-based method. This method, which was new to the federal courts, combined information on the type and frequency of case events with information on the time judges require to complete these events. The Judicial Conference Committee on Judicial Resources and its Subcommittee on Judicial Statistics, which requested the study, approved the new set of weights in June 2004.

Note: The report's appendices are only available online. They are not included in the printed publication.

January 1, 2005
Analysis of Briefing Requirements in the United States Courts of Appeals

The Federal Judicial Center prepared this report to assist the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure to evaluate reported problems with and potential amendments to Rules 28 and 32 on the content and cover of briefs. The report presents information received from the thirteen courts of appeals on every local rule or practice that imposes upon briefs and brief covers requirements that are not in the national rules. The report also describes the history behind the adoption of the local requirements, the extent to which courts enforce them, as well as the courts' plans to adopt more briefing requirements, problems courts have experienced under the current rules, and whether Rule 28 should be amended to prohibit further variations or to include additional or different briefing requirements.

November 30, 2004
Treatment of Brady v. Maryland Material in United States District and State Courts' Rules, Orders, and Policies

The Center prepared this report at the request of the Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules as it considers whether to propose amendments to Rules 11 and 16 to codify the disclosure requirements in Brady v. Maryland. The committee wanted to know whether federal district courts and state courts have adopted formal rules or standards that provide prosecutors with specific guidance on discharging their Brady obligations. This report describes the federal district court local rules, orders, and policies that address Brady material, and the treatment of Brady material in state statutes and in court rules and policies. For an update to this report see Brady v. Maryland Material in the United States District Courts: Rules, Orders, and Policies (2007).

October 1, 2004
Sealed Settlement Agreements in Federal District Court

An examination of 288,846 federal district court cases revealed 1,270 cases that appeared to have sealed settlement agreements, for a sealed settlement rate of less than one half of one percent. In 97% of the cases with sealed settlements the complaint was not under seal. This research was conducted at the request of the Judicial Conference's Advisory Committee on Civil Rules. Although the practice of confidential settlement agreements is common, the question was how often and under what circumstances are such agreements filed under seal.

The report's appendices include a compilation of federal district court rules concerning sealed court documents and descriptions of the cases that appeared to have sealed settlement agreements.

For earlier unpublished research which included a compilation of both federal and state rules concerning sealed court documents, see Sealed Settlement Agreements in Federal District Court - May 2003 Progress Report.

May 19, 2004
Attorney Reports on the Impact of Amchem and Ortiz on Choice of a Federal or State Forum in Class Action Litigation: A Report to the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules Regarding a Case-based Survey of Attorneys

While considering a proposal to amend Fed. R. Civil P. 23 to create new certification standards that would apply only to settlement class actions, the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules sought this empirical research from the Center to help it decide how to proceed. This report is the second phase. For the first phase see Effects of Amchem/Ortiz on the Filing of Federal Class Actions: Report to the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules (2002).

April 1, 2004
Survey of Bankruptcy Judges Regarding Use of Rule 7026 Mandatory Disclosure in Adversary Proceedings

Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires each party to disclose to the other, at specified time intervals, a variety of information about their case. These mandatory disclosures are covered by Rule 26: (a)(1) initial disclosure, (a)(2) expert testimony disclosure, and (a)(3) pretrial disclosure. Civil Rule 26 is made applicable to adversary proceedings (APs) in bankruptcy by Rule 7026 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. Rule 26 is Appendix 1. The Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules asked the Federal Judicial Center to survey bankruptcy judges about whether the Committee should recommend an amendment to Bankr. Rule 7026 to exempt certain categories of APs from the mandatory disclosure requirements of Rule 26. These survey results were submitted to the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules in March 2004.

March 22, 2004
Conference on Large Chapter 11 Cases

The purpose of the conference, held in Washington, D.C. January 30-February 1, 2003, was to identify the factors that influence the selection of venue for Chapter 11 cases of large companies irrespective of the statute; evaluate the effect of venue choice on parties-in-interest and the courts; and determine whether legislation or judicial action related to venue was necessary and appropriate.

Recognizing that the debtor's choice of venue may depend greatly on the procedures courts have in place for handling various aspects of large Chapter 11 cases, an additional goal of the conference was to critically examine the effectiveness of such procedures, the variations in them among districts, and, ultimately, whether standard procedures for handling large Chapter 11 cases are needed.

This report summarizes the conference discussions, focusing first on the factors that influence the choice of venue and, second, on the proposals for further action recommended by the Bankruptcy Committee's Subcommittee on Venue-Related Matters. To a large extent, these recommendations are oriented toward expanding the expertise in handling large Chapter 11 matters throughout the bankruptcy bench and helping to establish more effective and standard procedures for large Chapter 11 cases throughout the nation.

January 1, 2004
State Court Procedures Regarding Pre-Verdict Judgments of Acquittal and the State's Right to Appeal Those Judgments

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has proposed amending Rule 29 to preserve the government's right to appeal a trial court's decision to grant a motion for judgment of acquittal. DOJ argues, "Rule 29 as currently constituted represents an anomaly within the Rules and indeed within the judicial system." 

To help inform the debate, the Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules of the Judicial Conference of the United States asked the Federal Judicial Center to conduct a study of state laws that allow the trial judge to grant a motion for a judgment of acquittal prior to the case's submission to the jury. Specifically, the Committee wanted to know (1) whether a state judge may enter a judgment of acquittal before a jury verdict, and (2) whether the prosecution may appeal from judgments of acquittal directed by the trial judge prior to submission of the case to the jury.

September 30, 2003
Remote Public Access to Electronic Criminal Case Records: A Report on a Pilot Project in Eleven Federal Courts

Prepared for the Court Administration and Case Management Committee of the Judicial Conference, this study shows there may be more advantages to remote public access to electronic criminal case documents than disadvantages or potential harm and that the majority of federal judges in the study favor access.

May 7, 2003
Sealed Settlement Agreements in Federal District Court—May 2003 Progress Report

Case records generally are public records and all documents filed with a court are available to the public for inspection upon request unless a statute, rule, or order provides otherwise. This report summarizes federal and state court rules on sealing documents in trial courts files. It also describes early stages of research on sealed settlement agreements in federal district court. The research was conducted at the request of the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rules.

For the completed 2004 report on federal sealed settlement agreements, see Sealed Settlement Agreements in Federal District Court.

May 1, 2003