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Legal Research at Princeton

Sources of Legal and Judicial Data

Legal and judicial data are used to study the law with quantitative or empirical methods, and is quite different from traditional legal research.  The tools listed below provide data sets and other helpful tools and information for this type of research.


Journal of Empirical Legal Studies: The Journal of Empirical Legal Studies (JELS) is a peer-edited, peer-refereed, interdisciplinary journal that publishes high-quality, emirically-oriented articles of interest to scholars in a diverse range of law and law-related fields, including civil justice, corporate law, criminal justice, domestic relations, economics, finance, health care, political science, psychology, public policy, securities regulation, and sociology.

Supreme Court Database: Known commonly as the Spaeth data set, it provides over two hundred pieces of information about each case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.  It provides two large sets of data, one covering 1791-1945, and one covering 1946-2018.

The Judicial Research Initiative, sponsored by the University of South Carolina : This site allows users to download electronic datasets of court cases, including Federal Courts of Appeals cases, obtain smaller datasets or measures of judicially relevant phenomena, read various working papers on important topics, and link to other websites containing law and judicial politics information.  Also contains data for foreign high courts.

Judicial Business of the United States Courts: Annual Reports: Provides statistics on the work of the Federal Judiciary for a fiscal year, comparing data between years, and, when possible, explaining increases or decreases in caseloads. Separate sections of the report address the appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts; the probation and pretrial services system; and other components of the Federal Judiciary. Caseload totals for the major programs of the Federal Judiciary appear in the table of judicial caseload indicators.

Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts: Provides statistical data on the business of the federal Judiciary. Specific publications address the work of the appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts; the probation and pretrial services systems; and other components of the U.S. courts.

State Court Statistics Project: Publishes caseload data from the courts of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

International Courts Data, Georgetown University: This web-site provides a portal for students and scholars interested in the empirical study of international courts. Most importantly, the site provides access to datasets collected by various scholars.

Attributes of U.S. Federal Judges Database: Database on the personal, social, economic, career and political attributes of judges who served on the United States Courts of Appeals from 1801 to 2000.

Federal Court Cases Integrated Database Series: Contains data back to 1970 on civil case and criminal defendant filings and terminations in the federal courts.

Martin-Quinn Scores: Measuring the relative location of U.S. Supreme Court justices on an ideological continuum allows us to better understand the politics of the high court.