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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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A Qualitative Study of Issues Raised by the Discovery of Computer-Based Information in Civil Litigation, September 13, 2002

This research report was submitted to the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Civil Rules for its October 2002 meeting.

September 13, 2002
Effects of Amchem/Ortiz on the Filing of Federal Class Actions: Report to the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules

The Advisory Committee on Civil Rules has been considering a proposal to revise Fed. R. Civil P. 23 to create new certification standards that would apply only to settlement class actions. The Committee sought empirical research from the Center to help it decide how to proceed. The Center conducted the research in two phases during 2002-2004. This report is the first phase. For the second phase see 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 (2004).

The Class Action Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules asked the Federal Judicial Center to examine the impact, if any, of the Supreme Court decisions in Amchem and Ortiz on the rate at which plaintiffs file class actions in federal courts. The resulting report describes trends in federal class action filings, removals, settlements, and dismissals during the period from January 1994 through June 2001 and identifies certain discernible changes after the two decisions. The report discusses the results of a time-series analysis that tested whether there were any statistically significant relationships between the two decisions and the filing/disposition patterns found. Certain of the changes observed were not likely to have occurred by chance; however, many factors might have affected filings.

September 9, 2002
Statement of Allegations and Reasons in Chief Judge Dismissal Orders Under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980

This brief report was prepared at the request of the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property of the House Judiciary Committee. Researchers found that in reviewing complaints of judicial misconduct or disability filed pursuant to statute, chief judges of all but one of the circuits have usually applied Judicial Conference standards that call for a restatement of allegations in the complaint and a reasoned response to such allegations. Researchers also found that 80% of the chief judge dismissal orders cited as a reason for dismissal the close relationship between a complainant's allegations and the merits of a decision by the judge who was the subject of the complaint.

May 1, 2002
Past and Potential Uses of Empirical Research in Civil Rulemaking

This article describes some of the advantages, disadvantages, potential benefits, and limitations of conducting empirical research to inform the civil rulemaking process. The article documents and analyzes the impact of fourteen Center studies during the last fourteen years in response to specific requests from rulemakers who wished to examine empirical data relevant to contemplated changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. From 77 Notre Dame Law Review 1121 (April 2002).

April 1, 2002
Defining the "Majority" Vote Requirement in Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 35(a) for Rehearings En Banc in the United States Courts of Appeals

This report was prepared at the request of the Committee on Appellate Rules as they consider proposing a uniform rule on en banc voting procedures for the courts of appeals.

February 1, 2002
Alternative Structures for Bankruptcy Appeals

Under the current bankruptcy appellate system, appeals from dispositive orders of bankruptcy judges are taken to the district court or to the bankruptcy appellate panel, if one has been established and the district has chosen to participate, with further appeal as of right to the court of appeals. In response to legislative proposals to change this system, the Judicial Conference of the United States asked Congress to defer action until the judiciary had an opportunity to "study further the existing process and possible alternative structures and to submit a subsequent report to Congress." To facilitate the Conference's deliberations, its Committee on the Administration of the Bankruptcy System asked the Federal Judicial Center to study the existing bankruptcy appellate structure and possible alternatives. This report sets out the results of that study. It describes the bankruptcy appellate system now operating in the United States and how it evolved, sets out the recent efforts to change this system, and analyzes the evidence regarding the need for change and the desirability of proposed changes.

Reprinted from 76 American Bankruptcy Law Journal 625 (Fall 2002).

Note: This is a slightly updated version of the Center's publication Alternative Structures for Bankruptcy Appeals (2000, 123 pp.). This report is identical to the Federal Judicial Center's report that was considered by the Judicial Conference Bankruptcy Committee in making its recommendations in 1999, except that Part 2 has been updated to reflect more recent legislative and Judicial Conference activity. In addition, Appendices A, B, and D to the initial report are omitted and minor editorial changes have been made.


January 1, 2002
Judge and Attorney Experiences, Practices, and Concerns Regarding Expert Testimony in Federal Civil Trials

This is an expanded version of Expert Testimony in Federal Civil Trials: A Preliminary Analysis (2000). In 1998, the Federal Judicial Center surveyed federal judges about their experiences with expert testimony in civil cases. Judges answered specific questions about their most recent relevant civil trial, as well as questions drawing on their overall experience with expert testimony in civil cases. The Center conducted a similar survey of judges in 1991, shortly before the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). Preliminary analysis of the aggregated data has focused on (1) comparing judges' experiences with expert testimony before and after Daubert and (2) exploring the current concerns of judges regarding expert testimony in civil cases. Additional data have since been collected from attorneys in the trials described in the 1998 survey. Preliminary findings include the following:

  • Experts testified most frequently in tort cases.
  • Medical and mental health experts were the most common broad category of testifying experts, although economists were the single most frequent specific type of expert. Experts from scientific specialties testified in only a small proportion of cases.
  • Judges were more likely to scrutinize expert testimony before trial and less likely to admit expert testimony in 1998 than in 1991. Attorneys report filing motions in limine, challenging the admissibility of expert testimony, more frequently after Daubert.
  • The two most common problems cited by judges were experts who were not objective and the excessive expense of expert testimony.
  • In general, judges' assessments of problems with expert testimony did not differ greatly from 1991 to 1998.

Note: Excerpted from Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 2002, vol. 8, no. 3, pages 309-322.

January 1, 2002
Trends in Summary Judgment Practice: A Preliminary Analysis

The drop in trial rate in civil cases over the past three decades prompts many hypotheses about the cause. One possible explanation is an increase in dispositive motions, especially motions for summary judgment. The Center has collected information on dispositive motions in cases terminated in six federal district courts during 1975, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1995 and 2000. This preliminary analysis examines changes in summary judgment practice.

November 1, 2001
Neutral Science Panels: Two Examples of Panels of Court-Appointed Experts in the Breast Implants Product Liability Litigation

This report to the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management describes two different types of independent panels used in the silicone gel breast implants litigation. The use of such panels of appointed experts represents a marked departure from the traditional means of presenting and considering testimony. This report describes these expert panels in sufficient detail to permit others to understand the procedures that were used, the benefits that resulted, and the problems that arose. A similar version of this report was originally delivered to the Committee in November 1999.

June 15, 2001
CJA Supervising Attorney: A Possible Tool in Criminal Justice Act Administration

The District of Maryland, the Central District of California, and the Northern District of California have each received special funds to create a position called “Criminal Justice Act Supervising Attorney” on a pilot basis. The purpose of these positions is to assist the courts in carrying out their responsibilities under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA). The purpose of this report is to provide the Judicial Conference and its committees with information about how having these positions worked.

April 1, 2001