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Judiciary Grows, But Not as Fast as the Population

Posted Nov 6, 2007 2:38 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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States are beefing up the ranks of the judiciary, but the extra judges are not enough to keep up with population growth.

A special report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that state trial courts added 2,600 judges from 1987 to 2004, an increase of 11 percent, but the ratio of judges to people fell because of increased population.

The ratio fell from 10 to nine trial judges per 100,000 persons during the 18-year time period.

During the same period, trial court case filings increased by about 43 percent in general jurisdiction courts, which hear serious civil or criminal cases, and by about 45 percent in limited jurisdiction courts, which handle lesser criminal and civil matters.

In general jurisdiction courts, the biggest increase was in criminal case filings, which grew by 67 percent, while in limited jurisdiction courts, domestic relations cases nearly doubled.

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