Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How Many Trials?

[RESEARCH] I wondered: how many trials are taking place in Washington Courts? Of those, how many take place here in King County? Are there more or fewer than a few years ago?

So I spent a little time looking at the caseload reports from the Washington Courts. In these, you can find all sorts of data about filings, dispositions, nature of cases, and more. Here are just a few statistics:

Filings and trials in the superior courts in 2004

  • Filings
Criminal: 48,161 (up 13% from 2000)
--- King County: 10,209
Civil: 128,009 (up 21% from 2000)
--- King County: 39,309
Domestic Relations: 37,703 (down 1% from 2000)
--- King County: 7,507
  • Trial Proceedings
Criminal: 2,207 (down 11% from 2000)
--- King County: 537
Civil 1,462 (down 15% from 2000)
--- King County: 342
Domestic Relations: 2,563 (about the same as 2000)
--- King County: 814

So just a small slice of the cases filed actually go to trial. (Of course, you need to know about trial practice even if your case doesn't go to trial. Settlement negotiations and motions practice are shaped by how you think the case would play out if tried.)

Trials in the Courts of Limited Jurisdiction in 2004
  • Jury Trials
Civil trials set: 681; civil trials held: 78
--- King County: 145 civil trials set; 22 civil trials held
All trials set: 97,212; all trials held: 2,999
--- King County: 15,315 trials set; 884 trials held
  • Non-jury Trials

Civil trials set: 4,886; civil trials held: 1,717
--- King County: 1,157 civil trials set; 325 civil trials held
All trials set: 23,158 civil trials set; all trials held 6,956
--- King County: 3,776 trials set; 1,623 held

OK, all those numbers are pretty dense. Try these:

  • Just over 1% of civil cases filed in superior court go to trial!
  • Less that 5% of criminal cases filed in superior court go to trial!
  • Almost a quarter of the felony trials (i.e., criminal trials in
    superior court) in the state are in King County!
  • 70% of the trials in the courts of limited jurisdiction are non-jury trials!

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