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  • Civil Rights Complaints in Federal Courts

  • Civil Rights Complaints in Federal Courts

    U.S. Department of Justice
    Office of Justice Programs
    Bureau of Justice Statistics
    Civil Justice Data Brief

    Federal Justice Statistics Program

    Civil Rights Complaints in U.S. District Courts, 2000

    June 2002, NCJ 193979

    In 2000 plaintiffs filed over 259,000 civil complaints in U.S. district courts. About 41,000 of these complaints involved a civil rights-related issue such as discrimination in employment, housing, welfare benefits, or voting rights. The number of civil rightsrelated cases declined to 40,908 after reaching a high of 43,278 in 1997.

    The decline in the number of civil rights complaints was due largely to employment civil rights complaints that dropped 12% from 23,796 in 1997 to 21,032 in 2000. By contrast, the number of other types of civil rights complaints increased from 1998 to 2000: housing from 838 to 1,284, voting from 108 to 167, and welfare from 66 to 80 filings.

    In 2000 a jury disposed of 80% of the 1,652 civil rights complaints terminated by trial verdict; a judge, 17%; and a directed verdict, about 4%. This continues the upward trend in the use of jury trials over the decade. On average, civil rights related complaints went from filing to disposition by trial verdict in about 14 months during 2000. Half the complaints were disposed of in 11 months or less.

    The number of civil rights related complaints filed in U.S. courts of appeal fell to 7,952 in 2000 from a high of 8,466 in 1998. Civil rights related appeals accounted for about 22% of all civil cases filed in U.S. courts of appeal.

    Jurisdiction of civil rights complaints

    Most (90%) civil rights complaints filed in U.S. district court continued to involve only private parties rather than the Federal Government. Private suits, however, declined 6% from a high of 40,361 in 1997 to 37,888 in 2000, while employment complaints in which the U.S. Government was the defendant rose 8% from 1,241 in 1997 to 1,362 in 2000.

    These statistics, prepared by Marika F.X. Litras, Ph.D., update those in previous reports. Visit http://www.ojp. for the most recent and complete statistics.

    Continued increase in out-of-court settlements

    While out-of-court settlements rose from 35% of civil rights complaints disposed of in 1998 to 38% in 2000, trial verdicts continued a decline from 5% to 4%.

    Plaintiff winners and awards

    Plaintiffs won 34% of civil rights complaints in 2000 regardless of the type of trial. Of the 545 plaintiffs who won their trials, 416 or 76% were awarded monetary damages. Half of these awards were in amounts of $155,500 or less.

    This information came from a US DOJ online article.

    *** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***

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