STATE COURT WORKLOAD The lion’s share of the nation’s judicial business


Administrative Office of the
Every state now has an administrative
office of courts or a similarly titled
agency that performs a variety of
administrative tasks for that state’s
court system. Among the tasks more
commonly associated with administrative offices are budget preparation,
data processing, facility management,
judicial education, public information,

 research, and personnel management. Juvenile and adult probation are
the responsibility of administrative
offices in a few states, as is alternative
dispute resolution

Court Clerks and Court
The clerk of the court has traditionally handled the day-to-day routines of
the court. This includes making courtroom arrangements, keeping records
of case proceedings, preparing orders
and judgments resulting from court
actions, collecting court fines and fees,
and disbursing judicial monies. In the
majority of states these officials are
elected and may be referred to by
other titles.
The traditional clerks of court have
been replaced in many areas by court

The lion’s share of the nation’s
judicial business exists at the
state, not the national, level.
The fact that federal judges adjudicate
several hundred thousand cases a
year is impressive; the fact that state
courts handle several million a year
is overwhelming, even if the most
important cases are handled at the
federal level. While justice of the peace
and magistrate courts at the state
level handle relatively minor matters, 

some of the biggest judgments in civil
cases are awarded by ordinary state
trial court juries.
The National Center for State
Courts has compiled figures on the
caseloads of state courts of last resort
and intermediate appellate courts in
1998. In all, some 261,159 mandatory
cases and discretionary petitions were
filed in the state appellate courts.
Reliable data on cases filed in the state
trial courts are harder to come by.
Still, the center does an excellent job
of tracking figures for states’ trial
courts. In 1998, 17,252,940 cases
were filed in the general jurisdiction
and limited jurisdiction courts. As
with the federal courts, the vast majority of the cases are civil, although
the criminal cases often receive the
most publicity

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