January 20, 2012
January 2012 Issue of The Third Branch is Available
This issue, available here, contains the 2011 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary. In introducing the report, Chief Justice Roberts writes, “Some observers have recently questioned whether the Judicial Conference’s Code of Conduct for United States Judges should apply to the Supreme Court. I would like to use my annual report this year to address that issue . . .” He briefly describes the Code of Conduct, financial disclosure obligations, gift regulations, and recusal, concluding “I have complete confidence in the capability of my colleagues to determine when recusal is warranted.”
“Workload of the Courts” shows an increase in district court filings (by 2%), but a decrease in filings in Bankruptcy Court, the Courts of Appeals (although civil appeals remained “fairly stable”), and the Supreme Court.
Further detail about district court filings in civil cases:
Civil filings in the U.S. district courts grew 2 percent to 289,252 cases. Fueling this growth was a 2 percent increase in federal question cases (i.e., actions under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States in which the United States is not a party in the case), which resulted mainly from cases addressing civil rights, consumer credit, and intellectual property rights.
Cases filed with the United States as a party climbed 9 percent. Those with the United States as plaintiff increased in response to a surge in defaulted student loan cases. Cases with the United States as defendant rose largely because of growth in Social Security cases.