The Source for Crime and Justice Data

Multistate Analysis of Time Consumption in Capital Appeals, 1992-2002 (ICPSR 21680) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

Despite public controversy over the length of death penalty appeals, little empirical work has been done on the time allocated to the capital appeals process. The purpose of this study was to perform a multistate empirical analysis of the time expended in direct appeals of capital cases. The researchers included decisions from 14 states that they believed to be representative of the 37 states that have enforceable death penalty laws. For each of the 14 states included in the study, the researchers examined every capital case decided on direct appeal by the courts of last resort between the dates January 1, 1992, and December 31, 2002. The researchers developed a case database by examining a variety of sources. For each of the 1,676 cases in the multistate database, the research team collected time consumption data for each of the following five phases of the direct appeal process: (1) the postsentence stage, (2) the preparation stage, (3) the argument stage, (4) the decision stage, and (5) the supreme court stage. Variables include state, case characteristics, court opinion variables, dates, and time consumption variables.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the data. A login is required to apply for access.

    A downloadable version of data for this study is available however, certain identifying information in the downloadable version may have been masked or edited to protect respondent privacy. Additional data not included in the downloadable version are available in a restricted version of this data collection. For more information about the differences between the downloadable data and the restricted data for this study, please refer to the codebook notes section of the PDF codebook. Users interested in obtaining restricted data must complete and sign a Restricted Data Use Agreement, describe the research project and data protection plan, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Dataset(s)

Study Description

Citation

Latzer, Barry, and James N.G. Cauthen. MULTISTATE ANALYSIS OF TIME CONSUMPTION IN CAPITAL APPEALS, 1992-2002. ICPSR21680-v1. New York, NY: The City University of New York [producer], 2007. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2008-03-25. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR21680.v1

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)

Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2004-IJ-CX-0005)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   appeal procedures, appellate courts, capital punishment, case processing, certiorari, death row inmates, disposition (legal), executions, judicial decisions, murderers, sentence review, sentencing, Supreme Court decisions, state supreme courts, United States Supreme Court

Smallest Geographic Unit:   state

Geographic Coverage:   Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1992-01-01--2002-12-31

Date of Collection:  

  • 2004--2006

Unit of Observation:   individual

Universe:   All capital cases resolved on direct appeal by the court of last resort (COLR) in 14 states between January 1, 1992, and December 31, 2002. The 14 states are: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

Data Types:   administrative records data

Data Collection Notes:

Users are encouraged to refer to the final report, available from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), for more detailed information regarding the study design and for complete references to publications mentioned in this description.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   Despite public controversy over the length of death penalty appeals, little empirical work has been done on the time allocated to the capital appeals process. The purpose of this study was to perform a multistate empirical analysis of the capital appeals process.

Study Design:  

This study focused on the time taken to process direct appeals of capital cases in 14 states. These direct appeals are the first stage in the capital appeals process. The researchers included decisions from 14 states that they believed to be representative of the 37 states that have enforceable death penalty laws. For each of the 14 states included in the study, the researchers examined every capital case decided on direct appeal by the courts of last resort between the dates January 1, 1992, and December 31, 2002.

The researchers developed a case database by examining a variety of sources. First, they turned to the clerk's office of each state court of last resort. Practically all of the offices had electronic docket control systems that identified capital appeals. Second, to confirm completeness, the researchers searched the online legal databases, Westlaw and Lexis, for all years of the study. In addition, for cases decided through 1995, they reviewed the data on direct appeal produced by Liebman, et al. (2002). Once all the cases were identified, the clerks' offices provided, either electronically or though docket sheets, the dates for the completion of various steps in each appeal. Trial court sentencing dates for each case were obtained from the state supreme court clerks' offices, the trial court clerks' offices, appellate briefs, or through public information available over the World Wide Web.

Thus, for each of the 1,676 cases in the multistate database, the research team collected time consumption data for each of the following five phases of the direct appeal process:

  1. the postsentence stage,
  2. the preparation stage,
  3. the argument stage,
  4. the decision stage, and
  5. the supreme court stage.

Sample:  

The sample selected to represent the universe consists of 1,676 cases. The researchers included in the study decisions from 14 states that they believed to be representative of the 37 states that have enforceable death penalty laws. For state selection, the research team relied initially on the work of Lofquist (2002). Lofquist classified states in terms of their application of the death penalty as measured by three criteria: the number of death sentences, the number of reversals, and the number of executions. He then established six categories of states, which he called Abolitionist, Inactive, Active, Symbolic, Inefficient, and Aggressive.

The researchers included in the study states from each of Lofquist's categories except the Abolitionist and the Inactive. The 12 Abolitionist states (13, if one includes New York) were excluded for the reason that they did not provide for capital punishment. The researchers also rejected the six Inactive states because the researchers concluded that they did not impose enough death sentences to permit fruitful study. The following states were chosen:

  • Three Active states - Kentucky, New Jersey, and Washington
  • Three Symbolic states - Nevada, Ohio, and Tennessee
  • Four Inefficient states - Arizona, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina
  • Four Aggressive states - Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia

Weight:   None.

Data Source:

Data were obtained from the following sources:

  • The clerk's office of each state court of last resort
  • Online legal databases (Westlaw and Nexis)
  • Data on direct appeal produced by Liebman, et al. (2002)
  • The state supreme court clerks' offices
  • The trial court clerks' offices
  • Appelate briefs
  • World Wide Web

Description of Variables:   Variables include state, case characteristics, court opinion variables, dates, and time consumption variables. Case characteristics include case number, case title, case citation information (volume of reporter in which decision of state court of last resort reported, reporter in which decision of state court of last resort reported, and page number of reporter on which decision begins), intermediate appellate court (IAC) review, rule/statute directed to reduce processing time of capital appeals, scope of review, state court of last resort decision to affirm or reverse trial court decision, and United States Supreme Court decision. Court opinion variables include number of concurring opinions, number of dissenting opinions, page length of majority opinion, and page length of all opinions. Date variables include capital sentencing date, notice of appeal filing date, last brief filing date, oral argument date, state court of last resort decision date (both excluding proportionality decision date for New Jersey cases and using proportionality decision date for New Jersey cases), and United States Supreme Court decision date. Time consumption variables include sentence date to state court of last resort decision date, state court of last resort decision date to United States Supreme Court decision date, sentence date to United States Supreme Court decision date, sentence date to notice of appeal filing date, sentence date to last brief filing date, notice of appeal date to last brief filing date, last brief filing date to oral argument date, oral argument date to state court of last resort decision date, notice of appeal date to state court of last resort decision date, and notice of appeal date to state court of last resort decision date.

Presence of Common Scales:   None.

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:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Related Publications ?

Utilities

Metadata Exports

If you're looking for collection-level metadata rather than an individual metadata record, please visit our Metadata Records page.

Download Statistics