The Source for Crime and Justice Data

United States Courts of Appeals Database Phase 1, 1925-1988 (ICPSR 2086)

Principal Investigator(s):


The Appeals Court Database Project was designed to create an extensive dataset to facilitate the empirical analysis of the votes of judges and the decisions of the United States Courts of Appeals. The data in this collection comprise the first phase of this project. A random sample of cases from each circuit for each year between 1925-1988 was coded for the nature of the issues presented, the statutory, constitutional, and procedural bases of the decision, the votes of the judges, and the nature of the litigants. The variables are divided into four sections: basic case characteristics, participation, issues, and judges and votes. There is a separate data file (Part 2) containing the number of cases with published decisions for each circuit/year between 1925 and 1990. These data are necessary to weight the variables in the main data file (Part 1).

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.


DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Appeals Data - Download All Files (49.4 MB)
SAS    SPSS    Stata    ASCII   
ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   
DS2:  Weighting Data - Download All Files (0.6 MB)
SAS    SPSS    Stata    ASCII   
ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   

Study Description


Songer, Donald R. United States Courts of Appeals Database Phase 1, 1925-1988. ICPSR02086-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1998.

Persistent URL:

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This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (SES-8912678)
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   appellate courts, case processing, court cases, decision making, judges, judicial decisions

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Date of Collection:  

  • 1989--1990

Universe:   All United States Courts of Appeals decisions reported with opinions published in the FEDERAL REPORTER for each circuit for every calendar year between 1925-1988.

Data Types:   administrative records data


Sample:   The sampling unit for this database is the circuit/year. For each circuit/year from 1925 through 1960, a random sample of 15 cases was selected. For each circuit/year from 1961 through 1988, a random sample of 30 cases was selected. Weighting data are provided to calculate the proportion of the universe of cases contained in each circuit/year.

Data Source:


Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-03-30 File CB2086.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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