January 1, 2001, 12:01 a.m., e.s.t.


I. Overview

The 2000 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary is my 15th report as Chief Justice. Despite the seesaw aftermath of the Presidential election, we are once again witnessing an orderly transition of power from one Presidential administration to another. This Presidential election, however, tested our Constitutional system in ways it has never been tested before. The Florida State courts, the lower federal courts and the Supreme Court of the United States became involved in a way that one hopes will seldom, if ever, be necessary in the future.

I am pleased to report that a federal courts improvement bill was enacted for the first time in four years. The Act includes nearly 30 provisions covering a wide range of issues of importance to federal court operations. Thanks are due to Congress for creating ten new district judgeships and for confirming 39 judges during the last year, including three in Arizona, one of the Southwestern states where judges are so urgently needed. I hope that the 107th Congress will take action on the Judicial Conference's request to establish ten additional court of appeals judgeships, 44 additional district court judgeships and 24 new bankruptcy judgeships.

Although Congress responded to many of the Judiciary's legislative priorities during this year, I will focus in this report on what I consider to be the most pressing issue facing the Judiciary: the need to increase judicial salaries. I will also discuss proposed legislation that would effectively bar judges from attending privately sponsored seminars.

II. Judicial Compensation

One key to the independence of the federal Judiciary is that Article III of the Constitution of the United States guarantees federal judges tenure during good behavior and prohibits reducing their compensation while in office. Yet the federal courts of course depend on Congress for funding, including any increase in judicial compensation.

At the Constitutional Convention, the framers saw the necessity of allowing periodic increases in judicial salaries. Although the original draft of the compensation clause of Article III contained a prohibition on either decreasing or increasing the salary of a sitting judge, the delegates to the Convention recognized that freezing judges' salaries would be unworkable and would nullify the protections of life tenure. The delegates agreed that Congress ought to be able "to increase salaries as circumstances might require . . . ."1 They noted three independent factors that could justify raising judicial salaries: inflation, an increased workload or societal expectations. As Alexander Hamilton explained:

It will readily be understood, that the fluctuations in the value of money and in the state of society, rendered a fixed rate of compensation [for judges] in the Constitution inadmissible. What might be extravagant to-day, might in half a century become penurious and inadequate.2

The delegates also recognized that the Judiciary would require persons "of the first talents" and that to attract them the pay would have to be substantial.3 Today, all of these factors point to the need for a salary increase for the Judiciary.

I recognize that the salaries of federal judges are higher than average salaries in many occupations, and that some may be skeptical of the need to raise the salaries of judges who already earn more than $140,000 per year. But in order to continue to provide the nation a capable and effective judicial system we must be able to attract and retain experienced men and women of quality and diversity to perform a demanding position in the public service. The fact is that those lawyers who are qualified to serve as federal judges have opportunities to earn far more in private law practice or business than as judges.

In order to continue to attract highly qualified and diverse federal judges -- judges whom we ask and expect to remain for life -- we must provide them adequate compensation. To paraphrase a statement made by George Mason at the Constitutional Convention, I fear that otherwise the question will be not who is most fit to be chosen, but who is most willing to serve. We cannot afford a Judiciary made up primarily of the wealthy.

We should abandon the approach to judicial salaries that puts off the inevitable increases until salaries have so eroded in value that substantial increases are necessary. The Commission on Executive, Legislative and Judicial Salaries (known as the "Quadrennial Commission") was devised in 1967 to solve this problem through an independent commission of private sector members that would recommend to the President appropriate salary changes for the Judiciary as well as the Congress and senior Executive Branch officers. 2 U.S.C. ยงยง 351 et seq. The President was to take these recommendations into account in making his salary recommendations to Congress. Unless Congress acted to disapprove them within 30 days, the salary rates recommended by the President would be implemented.

The Quadrennial Commission, whose members were appointed every four years by the President, the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate and the Chief Justice, first met in 1968. Although the President's recommendation to Congress was less than the Commission's recommendation, it was implemented in 1969. The 1973 Quadrennial Commission's recommendation and the President's recommendation based upon it were not implemented. The 1977 Quadrennial Commission for the first time recommended different rates of pay for Level II Executive Branch officers ($60,000), Members of Congress ($57,500) and court of appeals judges ($65,000). The President recommended $57,500 for all three categories, which was implemented in 1977.

The 1981 Quadrennial Commission's recommendation and that of the President were not implemented. The 1985 Quadrennial Commission made no salary recommendations, but the 1987 Quadrennial Commission recommended that the rates of pay for Level II Executive Branch officers, Members of Congress and court of appeals judges be raised to $135,000; the President recommended $89,500 for Level II Executive Branch employees and Members of Congress, and $95,000 for court of appeals judges.4 The recommendations were implemented in 1987. The 1989 Quadrennial Commission's recommendation and the President's recommendation based upon it were not implemented, but they laid the groundwork for the enactment later that year of the Ethics Reform Act.

In addition to the Quadrennial Commissions, in 1975 Congress enacted the Executive Salary Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act, which gave judges, Members of Congress and high-level Executive Branch officials the same automatic cost-of-living adjustments accorded to other federal employees, unless specifically rejected by Congress. In practice, however, Congress frequently rejected or reduced the cost-of-living adjustments due under the Act. In 1981, Congress enacted section 140 of Public Law No. 97-92, which requires specific congressional action to give judges cost-of-living adjustments.

As the President noted in transmitting his 1989 salary recommendations to Congress, "[e]very one of the Commissions that has met over the past 20 years concluded that a pay increase for key Federal officials was necessary." Cong. Rec., vol. 135, pt. 1, p. 251, Jan. 19, 1989. The President also noted that the 1989 Quadrennial Commission had "documented both the substantial erosion in the real level of Federal executive pay . . . since 1969 and the recruitment and retention problems that have resulted, especially for the Federal judiciary." Id. Because neither the Quadrennial Commissions' recommendations nor cost-of-living adjustments were regularly implemented, periodic crises in federal pay continued to arise.

The Ethics Reform Act of 1989, Public Law No. 101-194, was the latest effort to resolve this problem. It provided a cost-of-living adjustment that year, followed by a pay raise the following year, for a total increase in judicial pay of nearly 35%. The Act also provided for yearly upward adjustments (automatic unless rejected by Congress for Members of Congress and Executive Branch officers, but still requiring legislation for judges) based upon the Employment Cost Index (ECI). Since 1993, however, there have been only three adjustments in the salaries of federal judges -- a 2.3% adjustment in 1998, a 3.4% adjustment in 2000 and a 2.7% adjustment effective today. The 1989 Act also replaced the Quadrennial Commission with a different form of commission; that commission has never even met.

Although the Judiciary is appreciative of any upward adjustment, these small and infrequent increases have once again allowed federal judicial salaries to erode. This unfortunate situation should not continue. As in the late 1980s, we are facing a critical moment in judicial compensation. The need for increased compensation for federal judges has been raised in 13 of the last 19 Year-End Reports, yet during that time judicial salaries have not even kept pace with inflation. And they have been far outpaced by salaries of lawyers in the private sector.

Twenty years ago, those lawyers who were appointed to the federal bench from private practice earned an average of about $131,000 just prior to their appointments. As of January 1, 2001, our federal district court judges make $145,100 and our court of appeals judges are paid $153,900 per year. Yet many partners in top firms in large cities now make in excess of $500,000 per year. It is no wonder that during the 1990s, 54 federal district court and court of appeals judges left the bench. While we cannot say that these judges left because of salary concerns alone, this number compares with 41 judges during the 1980s and just three during the 1960s.

If the federal Judiciary had received the ECI adjustments called for by the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, district court judges would now be paid about $159,300 and court of appeals judges $168,900. Instead, the compensation of federal judges continues to lag far behind both inflation and the spiraling compensation of attorneys in private practice. Many judicial law clerks, who work for federal judges for one or two years immediately after graduating from law school, leave their clerkships to work for top firms in big cities and immediately make as much as the judges for whom they clerked. While most of these law clerks have been out of law school for only a year or two, our federal judges are necessarily already experienced attorneys when they are appointed. Becoming a federal judge is an honor and a privilege, and requires a devotion to public service. But even the most devoted public servant should be fairly compensated.

Toward the end of the 106th Congress, there was a move to repeal the ban on honoraria for judges imposed by the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, in an effort to ameliorate the effect of lagging salaries and Congress's failure to implement cost-of-living adjustments envisioned by the Act. This move was met with an outcry against what some feared would create the appearance of impropriety, even though any honoraria would be governed by the strict standards of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, just as they had been before 1989. Yet many of those who condemned any effort to repeal the honoraria ban recognized the genuine need to increase salaries for the federal Judiciary.

The 107th Congress has a real opportunity to solve the problem of inadequate judicial compensation, particularly in light of the current budgetary surplus. First, Congress should act to pass legislation to restore foregone ECI adjustments by increasing judicial salaries by 9.6% and the President should sign this legislation. Second, because judges are appointed for life and expected to remain on the bench, increases in judicial compensation should not be tied to increases for non-career public servants. Third, future Ethics Reform Act increases for the Judiciary should be automatic. Finally, some form of the Quadrennial Salary Commission should be revived in order to advise Congress and the President periodically as to appropriate compensation for senior government officials. I am hopeful that during the next year, we can work together to bring about a lasting solution to ensuring consistent, adequate compensation for the Judiciary.

III. Privately Sponsored Seminars

Last July, after a private organization issued a report critical of judges' attending private educational seminars at the expense of the seminar sponsors, legislation was introduced that would prohibit federal judges from accepting "anything of value in connection with a seminar." The Judicial Education Reform Act of 2000, known as the Kerry-Feingold Bill (S. 2990 (106th Cong.)) would give the Board of the Federal Judicial Center the power to authorize government funding for judges to attend only those "seminars that are conducted in a manner so as to maintain the public's confidence in an unbiased and fair-minded judiciary."

The assignment to the FJC Board -- or to any government board -- of authority that is tantamount to deciding what seminars or educational meetings federal judges may attend -- and to decide it under the extraordinarily vague standard set out above -- has most of the elements commonly associated with government censorship. Such a proposal seems quite out of place in this country, with its tradition of freedom of speech and of the press. As Justice Holmes famously noted (in his dissent in Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 630 (1919)), "the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas" than by censorship.

Existing legal and ethics provisions properly restrict judges from accepting benefits from parties to litigation before them and provide for disqualification in any instance where a judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned. The current financial disclosure requirements also ensure that information regarding attendance at private seminars at the expense of the seminar sponsors is available to the public.

At its meeting in September, the Judicial Conference of the United States opposed the Kerry-Feingold Bill, noting that it is overly broad, raises potential constitutional issues and would mandate an inappropriate censorship role for the Federal Judicial Center. Subsequently, the FJC Board also opposed the bill. In addition to the reasons cited by the Judicial Conference, the FJC Board explained that the legislation would jeopardize the Federal Judicial Center's ability to cosponsor seminars with law schools and other organizations, as it occasionally does now. The legislation is also opposed by the Federal Judges Association and the deans of a number of law schools.

The Federal Judicial Center's mandate is to provide continuing education for federal judges and court personnel -- and for over 30 years the Center has ably performed this task. Later in this report, I describe the range of programs for judges presented by the Center last year. Nevertheless, the Center cannot provide every federal judge education each year on the wide array of subjects that judges may confront, including topics primarily of local concern. Seminars organized by law schools, bar associations and other private organizations are a valuable source of education in addition to that provided by the Federal Judicial Center. The effect of S. 2990 would be dramatically to restrict the information made available to federal judges through seminars by requiring that the content of that information and the identities of its presenters be weighed against a prediction of public confidence in fair-mindedness. This is contrary to the public interest in encouraging an informed and educated Judiciary, and contrary to the American belief in a free trade in ideas.

IV. The Year in Review

Information Assistance to Foreign Judiciaries

As I have noted in previous Year-End Reports, many representatives of foreign judicial systems continue to turn to our Judiciary for education and technical assistance. This year over 900 representatives from more than 60 foreign judicial systems formally visited the Supreme Court of the United States seeking information about our system of justice. The Federal Judicial Center, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, and the International Judicial Relations Committee of the Judicial Conference have been instrumental in providing international visitors with information, education and technical assistance to improve the administration and independence of foreign courts and enhance the rule of law. At the same time, we have gained valuable insights into our own judicial system by exchanging information with these foreign visitors.

The Federal Courts' Caseload

In Fiscal Year 2000, filings in the 12 regional courts of appeals were essentially static, growing by four cases from the previous year to 54,697.5 In the district courts, civil filings showed a similar pattern, declining by less than 1% to 259,517 cases,6 while criminal filings rose for the sixth straight year.7 The increase in criminal filings was echoed by a 7% gain in the number of defendants requiring pretrial services.8 The number of persons on probation, which is less directly affected by criminal filings, went up by 3%.9 Filings in U.S. bankruptcy courts continued a decline that began last year, falling 7% from 1,354,376 to 1,262,102.10

The number of judicial confirmations increased 40% from 25 in 1999 to 35 in Fiscal Year 2000, while the count of vacancies grew from 62 as of September 30, 1999, to 66 one year later. In addition to the 35 confirmations mentioned above, the Senate confirmed four judicial nominees on October 3.

The Supreme Court of the United States - Caseload Statistics

The total number of case filings in the Supreme Court increased from 7,109 in the 1998 Term to 7,377 in the 1999 Term - an increase of 3.8%. Filings in the Court's in forma pauperis docket increased from 5,047 to 5,282 - a 4.7% rise. The Court's paid docket increased by 31 cases, from 2,061 to 2,092 - a 1.5% increase. During the 1999 Term, 83 cases were argued and 79 were disposed of in 74 signed opinions, compared to 90 cases argued and 84 disposed of in 75 signed opinions in the 1998 Term. No cases from the 1999 Term were scheduled for re-argument in the 2000 Term.

V. The Administrative Office of the United States Courts

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts serves as the central support agency for the administration of the federal court system. Among the Administrative Office's most important responsibilities are preparing, under the guidance and direction of the Judicial Conference and its Committee on the Budget, the Judiciary's annual budget request, and subsequently submitting that request to Congress. Because the Judiciary's appropriations bill is included with those of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State and certain other federal agencies, the Judiciary's budget was once again delayed this year because of policy differences between the Congress and the President. Although these issues had nothing to do with the federal courts, the uncertain budget situation had the potential to jeopardize the effective and efficient operation of the Judicial Branch. Ultimately, however, under the leadership of the Judicial Conference's Budget Committee, chaired by Judge John G. Heyburn, II, and Administrative Office Director Leonidas Ralph Mecham, the Judiciary fared well in the Fiscal Year 2001 appropriations bill. The 8% funding increase will enable the Judiciary, for the first time in two years, to hire new staff. This will come as especially welcome news to the Southwestern border courts, which have experienced a 125% increase in criminal caseload over the past three years.

Because much of the Judiciary's budget is expended for the salaries of its personnel, the Judiciary devotes considerable attention to developing scientifically derived staffing formulas based on the functions and work requirements of the different court offices. In order to ensure staffing formulas reflect current work, they are updated periodically. After an intensive study of all major staffing formulas, new formulas were developed and implemented this year. The new staffing formulas reflect efficiencies realized in all program areas since the last formulas were developed, as well as new work.

An independent comprehensive study of the Judiciary's space and facilities program was completed this year. The consultant's report described numerous program achievements, including actions to achieve savings in the space and facilities program, a useful U.S. Courts Design Guide, and an effective long-range facilities planning process. Due to the efforts of the Judicial Conference's Committee on Security and Facilities, chaired by Judge Jane R. Roth, the Administrative Office and the General Services Administration, Congress approved funding for eight critically needed courthouse construction projects totaling $559 million over the next two years.

A top priority of the Administrative Office is developing and implementing new technologies and systems that enhance the management and processing of information and the performance of court business functions. Implementation of a new system for processing Criminal Justice Act panel attorney payment vouchers was completed this year, and agency staff continued to deploy new systems for jury administration and financial accounting.

This past year, development work continued on case management/electronic case file systems that will replace the current core case management systems for the appellate, district and bankruptcy courts. These new systems have the potential to change dramatically court operations because they will also include electronic case filing capabilities which will reduce the volume of paper case files. Today's technological capabilities that allow relatively easy access to information require careful consideration of issues related to security and privacy. Because court documents often contain private or sensitive information, the Administrative Office, under the guidance of the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, is studying the privacy and security implications of electronic case files. Also, the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure is considering changes to the federal rules to accommodate the practicalities of digital processes.

In 2000, the Administrative Office launched the federal law clerk information system, a new data base accessible through the Judiciary's Internet Web site that allows prospective law clerk candidates to obtain information about upcoming or existing employment opportunities as law clerks to federal judges. Within days of the system going live, information on more than 300 law clerk positions was posted on the Web site.

Community outreach programs are an important means of increasing the public's understanding of the federal Judiciary. This year, more than 1,300 high school seniors at 34 court locations across the country participated in a Law Day program sponsored by the Administrative Office called Judicial Independence and You. The program won an Outstanding Law Day Activity Award from the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Public Education.

VI. The Federal Judicial Center

One element of an effective and independent judicial system is a capacity to provide its judges the continuing education they need to do their jobs. Within the federal judicial system, that is the major role of the Federal Judicial Center.

Along with the Judicial Conference, the FJC's Board, which I chair, last year cautioned against proposals, such as the Kerry-Feingold Bill I discussed previously, that would unduly restrict judges' ability to attend privately funded educational programs. That caution, however, should not diminish the essential role of the FJC and the financial support that it needs. Law schools and public policy organizations cannot, and should not be expected to, offer judges education in the full range of their responsibilities.

Federal judges today face cases involving complicated statutes and factual assertions, many of which straddle the intersections of law, technology, and the physical, biological and social sciences. FJC education programs and reference guides help judges sort out relevant facts and applicable law from the panoply of information with which the adversary system bombards them. The FJC thus contributes to the independent decisionmaking that is the judge's fundamental duty.

Last year the FJC presented nine orientation seminars for new judges on basic topics such as civil and criminal procedure, case management, sentencing, evidence and ethics. Twelve three-day continuing education programs each covered multiple areas such as law and the Internet, employment law, sentencing, habeas corpus, prisoner litigation and capital case litigation, as well as the new evidence and procedure rules, electronic discovery, statistics, genetics, relations with the media and ethics. Eleven other programs, from two to four days long, each dealt exclusively with a specific subject, such as intellectual property, employment law, environmental law, case management, bankruptcy law or mediation.

These programs were designed and coordinated by the FJC's staff of judicial education specialists, with guidance from the FJC's Board and advisory groups of judges. The FJC also presents a few joint programs with law schools. Last year it worked with the University of Alabama, Boalt Hall at the University of California and the Georgetown Law Center. For every program, the FJC has two main goals: to ensure that the curriculum includes the competing aspects of the topic, and that it is up-to-date on both substantive law and procedure.

The FJC has been particularly responsive to the Supreme Court's trilogy of decisions, starting with Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), which requires judges to inquire more vigorously into the reliability of all expert testimony, while honoring the jury's fact-finding role. In 2000, the FJC released the second edition of its nationally recognized Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence. The Manual does not instruct judges about what evidence to admit or exclude. Instead, it helps judges identify and narrow issues in areas ranging from multiple regression analysis, to epidemiology, to engineering practices and methods. Because the Manual is easily available on the FJC's Web site and from commercial publishers, it also helps lawyers deal with complex evidence. In addition, this year a series of programs on the federal Judiciary's satellite television network will help judges analyze scientific evidence under the Daubert standards and also under Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370 (1996), which expands judges' responsibilities in patent cases.

FJC programs also reach other topics, such as recent broadcasts on the ramifications of the Supreme Court's decision last term in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 446 (2000), a forthcoming online collection of materials to assist judges assigned federal death penalty prosecutions, and a handbook for judges on the strengths and weaknesses of various types of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and how to implement court-based "ADR" effectively.

VII. The United States Sentencing Commission

At an investiture ceremony held at the Supreme Court of the United States on January 5, 2000, I administered the oath of office to the seven new members of the United States Sentencing Commission. The new Commission consists of Judge Diana E. Murphy (chair), Judge Ruben Castillo (vice chair); Judge William K. Sessions, III (vice chair), Mr. John R. Steer (vice chair), Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr., Judge Joe Kendall, and Professor Michael E. O'Neill. These seven voting commissioners are joined by ex-officio members Mr. Michael J. Gaines and Mr. Laird C. Kirkpatrick. The Commission announced on March 9 the appointment of Timothy B. McGrath as its new staff director. Mr. McGrath had served as the Commission's interim staff director for the 18 months prior to his appointment.

The Commission on May 1, 2000, sent to Congress a number of amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines that will significantly increase penalties for some serious crimes. Many of the newly enacted guideline provisions are in response to congressional concerns and address such serious crimes as the improper use of new technology in copyright and trademark violations, sexual offenses against children, methamphetamine trafficking, identity theft, cell phone cloning, telemarketing fraud and firearms offenses.

Co-sponsored by the U.S. Sentencing Commission and the Federal Bar Association, the Ninth Annual National Seminar on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines was held May 3-5 in Clearwater Beach, Florida. Presentations were made on a variety of topics including the fraud and theft guidelines, restitution, drug issues, firearms offenses, immigration offenses, criminal history, relevant conduct and grouping of multiple counts. The seminar was attended by 368 people, primarily U.S. probation officers and defense attorneys.

The Commission announced on August 8 its priorities for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2001. The priorities include work on an economic crimes package; money laundering; counterfeiting; further responses to the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998; firearms; nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; unauthorized compensation and related offenses; offenses implicating the privacy interests of taxpayers; the initiation of a review of the guidelines relating to criminal history; and the initiation of an analysis of the operation of the "safety valve" guidelines.

On October 12 and 13, the Commission presented its Third Symposium on Crime and Punishment in the United States. The symposium, "Federal Sentencing Policy for Economic Crimes & New Technology Offenses," focused on current economic crime sentencing and the ways in which new technologies have impacted the landscape of criminal activity. The Commission co-sponsored this symposium with the Committee on Criminal Law of the Judicial Conference, the ABA White Collar Crime Committee and the National White Collar Crime Center.

I commend Judge Murphy and the staff of the United States Sentencing Commission, as well as Director Mecham and the staff of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and Judge Fern Smith and the staff of the Federal Judicial Center, for their sustained contribution to an independent and effective Judiciary.

VIII. Conclusion

For several years, I have noted that we would have to continue to work to increase compensation for federal judges to maintain the quality and morale of the federal Judiciary. I look forward to working with the 107th Congress and the President to resolve this continuing problem.

Despite all of the challenges we face, the Judiciary can look back upon 2000 as a year of many accomplishments. We have learned to be more efficient and are in the forefront of innovative initiatives such as electronic filing and distance learning. Supported by hard-working staff, federal judges continue to administer justice day in and day out, notwithstanding an increasing workload and a salary whose real value has eroded substantially over the past decade. We can be proud that our courts continue to serve as a standard of excellence around the world.

Finally, I offer my best wishes to President-elect Bush and Vice President-elect Cheney and to the members of the 107th Congress, just as I extend my best wishes to President Clinton and Vice President Gore and to those legislators who have concluded their elective service. And I extend to all my wish for a happy New Year.

1 2 THE RECORDS OF THE FEDERAL CONVENTION OF 1787, p. 44 (Max Farrand ed., 1911) (hereinafter Farrand).

2 The Federalist No. 79 (Lodge ed. 1908), pp. 491-492.

3 2 Farrand, at 429.

4 The Quadrennial Commission's mandate was to recommend salary changes for the Judiciary as well as Congress and senior Executive Branch employees. For simplicity, I have referred only to its recommendations for Level II Executive Branch employees, Members of Congress and court of appeals judges.

5 Original proceedings increased 18%, and criminal appeals rose 4%, which offset declines in filings of bankruptcy, civil, and administrative agency appeals, down 9%, 2%, and 1%, respectively.

6 The decline in civil filings in the U.S. district courts was only 754 cases or three-tenths of 1%. Though the total number was essentially unchanged, specific areas of civil litigation experienced significant increases and decreases. Federal question litigation declined 3%, falling by more than 5,000 cases. This was chiefly attributable to a 40% overall decline in personal injury cases, mostly related to asbestos and breast implant filings. Diversity of citizenship filings also fell, declining by 2% to 48,626, largely due to decreases in personal injury/product liability filings. Offsetting these declines were increases in U.S. plaintiff or defendant actions which grew 9%, rising from 65,443 to 71,109 cases. U.S. plaintiff cases increased 10%, primarily because filings involving contract actions grew by 9%. Recovery of overpayments related to defaulted students loans, increasing from 21,816 to 24,329, was the primary reason for the overall contract action increase. The number of filings with the U.S. as defendant also rose, for the most part attributable to a 14% increase in social security filings and a 9% rise in prisoner petitions. The Social Security Administration devoted resources to clearing a backlog and, as a result, social security supplemental security income cases increased 19%, or by more than 1,000 cases, and disability insurance cases increased 11%, rising by more than 700 cases. Prisoner petitions related to motions to vacate sentence rose 10% while habeas corpus prisoner petitions grew by 8%.

7 Filings of criminal cases rose 5% to 62,745, and the number of defendants increased 4% to 83,963. Fiscal Year 2000 cases and defendant numbers are the highest since 1933, when the Prohibition Amendment was repealed. This caseload growth raised the criminal cases per authorized judgeship from 93 to 96, in spite of nine additional Article III judgeships created in November 1999. Immigration and firearms cases were chiefly responsible for the increase, with immigration filings growing by 1,509 cases, a 14% rise over last year, and firearms filings growing by 1,020 cases, a 23% jump over last year. The courts received 12,150 immigration cases, 63% of which were in five Southwestern border districts-Southern District of California, District of Arizona, Southern and Western Districts of Texas, and District of New Mexico. For the fourth straight year, weapons and firearms filings rose, with the district courts receiving 6,223 defendants in 5,387 firearms cases. These filings amounted to 9% of all criminal case filings, two percentage points more than they did last year.

8 In Fiscal Year 2000, the number of defendants entering into the pretrial services system increased to 85,617, while the number of defendants interviewed went up 6% and the number of pretrial reports prepared increased 7%. During the past five years, pretrial reports prepared and cases requiring pretrial services each rose 35%, persons interviewed grew 26%, and defendants released on supervision increased 22%. Cases requiring pretrial services have risen each year since 1994, and this year's total is 53% higher than that for 1994.

9 There is an average lag of several years before defendants found guilty and sentenced to prison appear in the probation numbers. Supervised release following a period of incarceration continues to account for a growing percentage of the probation population, now standing at 64%. Of the 63,793 persons serving terms of supervised release, 54% had been charged with drug-related offenses.

10 Following four years of continuous growth, during which filings first exceeded the one-million mark, declines in filings of both personal and business bankruptcy petitions have been reported for the past two years. Drops in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 petitions were primarily responsible for the overall decline. Filings under Chapter 11, which represent about 1% of all bankruptcy filings, were the only ones showing an increase, up 9%; those filings, however, generally require more judge involvement than do the filings under other chapters of the bankruptcy code. Chapter 7 filings, which constituted 70% of all bankruptcy filings, dropped 9%. Filings under Chapter 13, which accounted for 30% of all bankruptcies, fell 1%. Filings under Chapter 12 plunged 32% since provisions of the code expired on July 1.


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