Around this time last year, I took a look at statistics showing that the filing of new civil appeals had declined in federal courts and in Maine. As I observed then, the 2020 statistics had not yet fully captured the impact of the pandemic on appeals and civil appeal statistics would bear monitoring. I decided to check back a year later, and it appears that the trend of declining appeals accelerated in 2021.
As Chief Justice Roberts’ 2021 year-end report discloses, new filings in federal courts of appeals fell from 48,190 in 2020 to 44,546, a decline of 9%; the decrease in civil appeals matched this decline. This trend can also be seen in the First Circuit statistics; there, total appeals for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2021 fell over 15% as compared to the prior 12-month period ending June 30, 2020. Even more starkly, total civil appeals for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2021 fell to