Congested Court Dockets and Delays

National statistics on crowded court dockets and delays are mainly available for Federal courts. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts publishes the National Judicial Caseload Profile. As of March 31, 2017:

  • There were 677 authorized judgeships, with vacant judgeships taking an average of 588 days—a year and seven months—to fill.
  • The average active Federal judge had 639 pending cases.
  • Every year, the average active Federal judge was assigned to 573 new cases, of which 431 were civil cases.
  • Every year, the average active federal judge disposed of 563 cases but only had 17 trials.
  • 17.4% of civil cases in Federal courts were over three years old.  That is more than one of every six cases.

See http://www.uscourts.gov/statistics/table/na/federal-court-management-statistics/2017/03/31-1

The Administrative Office also publishes Table C-5, the median time intervals from filing to disposition of civil cases in the district courts. For cases that plaintiffs did not abandon part way through (in other words, the case was terminated after the judge did something, in calendar 2016:

  • It took a median 10.4 months to conclude the civil cases that could be concluded before any pretrial conference was held (dismissals on the pleadings, summary judgments, transfers to a different district, settlements, etc.).
  • It took a median 12.6 months to conclude the civil cases that could be concluded after a pretrial conference (summary judgments, settlements, etc.).
  • It took a median 25.9 months to resolve a case by trial.

See http://www.uscourts.gov/statistics/table/c-5/statistical-tables-federal-judiciary/2016/12/31.
And then there are appeals, and the time they add until the matter is finally over.