Chief Justice Roberts recently issued his year-end report on the federal judiciary, appropriately focusing on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chief Justice noted that 2020 ended with the judiciary in much the same situation as when the American court system began – in the midst of a public health crisis. In 1790, it was the influenza. In 2020, of course, it was the coronavirus. Throughout the history of our judicial system, whether by horseback or by Zoom, the work of appellate courts has proceeded despite health challenges.
What caught my attention in the report was a statistic showing that new filings in regional courts of appeal fell by less than one percent in 2020, from 48,486 to 48,190. New civil appeals decreased five percent, reflecting a decrease in new civil filings in district courts. That made me delve deeper into judicial statistics, to look at what is going on in the First Circuit and in Maine.
The same downward trend