Hello, all. I have been trying to find (and have failed, thus far) historical analyses of the average length of time court cases take, from start to finish, in the United States over time.

I have a theory that, as a proxy for the increasing complexities of the legal system over time, court cases - across all categories (civil, federal, etc) - should also be taking significantly longer, and I am now trying to find evidence of that.

If anyone could point me in the direction of such statistical research - even where to look - I would extremely appreciate any and all help.

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    Find the case records of the court(s) you are interested in; calculate the duration of a representative sample of cases; compare. Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 5:48
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    Someone suggested that this be migrated to law; consensus is that this is too broad for law.
    – MCW
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 8:14
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    Collecting such a sample, over time, would still be manageable by an individual, but what would really be useful is all the accompanying data on the trials within the collected sample, with enough data to run a basic regression. This way, also a perspective on which factors most influence trial-lengths over time is given. The most basic statistical analysis would accomplish this. However, gathering all the data would require a dedicated historian, at the very least.
    – Coolio2654
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 18:05
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    Oh, and... there's a term for what you want to touch onto: legislative inflation. Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 3:37
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    @Coolio2654 - You might Court Statistics Project useful. And no, "legislative inflation" is not relevant to your stated purpose (as I understand from your question), as it deals mainly with legislature, not judicature. Your enquiry is related to, broadly, "Economics of Law", an example article. There are major research on this topic; try searching for "access to justice" within Economics of Law. Good luck.
    – J Asia
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


There are databases of specific types of suits, some of which are free. For a long-established example, consider the comprehensive database Stanford has created of securities class actions. See http://securities.stanford.edu/stats.html for more detail. If you are good at mining text data, that source is rich. In particular, it includes information on settlements, not merely on judgments. (Of course, it's only for class actions that you can expect data on settlements since they often aren't public for other types of suits. )

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