Assessment of Defense and Prosecutorial Strategies in Terrorism Trials in the United States, 1980-2004 (ICPSR 26241)

Principal Investigator(s): Smith, Brent L., University of Arkansas; Shields, Christopher A., University of Arkansas; Damphousse, Kelly R., University of Oklahoma

Summary:

This study created a flat-file database of information regarding defendants who were referred to United States Attorneys by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) following official terrorism investigations between 1980 and 2004. Its ultimate goal was to provide state and federal prosecutors with empirical information that could assist federal and state prosecutors with more effective strategies for prosecution of terrorism cases. The results of this study enhanced the existing 78 variables in the AMERICAN TERRORISM STUDY, 1980-2002 (ICPSR 4639) database by adding the 162 variables from the Prosecution and Defense Strategies (PADS) database. The variables in the PADS database track information regarding important pleadings, motions, and other key events that occur in federal terrorism trials; the PADS variables measure the strategies used by legal counsel as well as other legal nuances.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the restricted-use data. A login is required to apply.

    Access to these data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

    Any public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

Dataset(s)

Dataset
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Study Description

Citation

Smith, Brent L., Christopher A. Shields, and Kelly R. Damphousse. Assessment of Defense and Prosecutorial Strategies in Terrorism Trials in the United States, 1980-2004. ICPSR26241-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2014-11-11. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR26241.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR26241.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2006-IJ-CX-0026)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    case processing, court cases, courtroom proceedings, crime prevention, defense (law), defense counsel, district courts, FBI, federal prisoners, indictments, national security, prosecuting attorneys, sentencing, terrorism, terrorist attacks, terrorist prosecution, terrorists, trial procedures, trials

Smallest Geographic Unit:    Federal judicial district

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1980--2004

Date of Collection:   

  • 1989--2010

Unit of Observation:    Count for each indictee in each indictment

Universe:    Indictments from federal "domestic security/terrorism investigations" in the United States from 1980 to 2004.

Data Type(s):    administrative records data

Data Collection Notes:

When the American Terrorism Study (ATS) was originally archived at ICPSR, data were only available from 1980-2002. This resulted in the study being released as the AMERICAN TERRORISM STUDY, 1980-2002 (ICPSR 4639). For this project, the ATS was supplemented with data from the Prosecution and Defense Strategies project (PADS). In addition to adding PADS variables to the ATS, the study time period was expanded from 1980-2002 to 1980-2004. While the original ATS study title of AMERICAN TERRORISM STUDY, 1980-2002 (ICPSR 4639) is referenced throughout the study description, both the ATS variables and the PADS variables available as ICPSR 26241 correspond to the period 1980-2004.

Users should note that a case count discrepancy exists between "Final Report - An Assessment of Defense and Prosecutorial Strategies in Terrorism Trials: Implications for State and Federal Prosecutors" (Shields, Damphousse, and Smith, 2008; NCJ 228276) and the dataset. The report lists a total of 9,633 criminal violations whereas the dataset actually contains a total of 9,598 criminal violations.

Data include persons indicted as a result of a federal "domestic security/terrorism investigation." Users should note that some persons included in this dataset were acquitted or their cases were dismissed.

Methodology

Study Purpose:    The ultimate goal of this study was to provide state and federal prosecutors with empirical information that can assist in the effective prosecution of terrorism cases. In order to accomplish this goal, three objectives were met: (1) assess the relationship between prosecutorial and defense strategies and case outcomes in terrorism trials; (2) provide an overview of changes in terrorism cases since the September 11, 2001, attacks so as to answer the question, "How has 9/11 impacted the ways the federal government responds to terrorism?"; and (3) add variables to the American Terrorism Study (ATS) database so as to include information on prosecutorial and defense strategies for terrorism cases for the period 1980-2004.

Study Design:    This research project involved an examination of federal criminal court cases (1980-2004) that were filed after defendants were referred to United States Attorneys by the Federal Bureau of Investigation following an official terrorism investigation. The study focused on the courtroom processes and legal strategies that were used by federal prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys from the moment of indictment until the case reached final disposition. Specifically, the AMERICAN TERRORISM STUDY, 1980-2002 (ICPSR 4639) was supplemented with data from the Prosecution and Defense Strategies database (PADS). Because the PADS database uses the same cases at the ATS, the demographic information is the same. More than 160 additional variables that measure trial specific data were created and coded. The PADS data contain variables that measure legal nuances as well as the strategies used by legal counsel.

Sample:    This research project involved an examination of federal criminal court cases (1980 - 2004) that were filed after defendants were referred to United States Attorneys by the Federal Bureau of Investigation following an official terrorism investigation. The research team attempted to collect data on the entire population of terrorism cases from 1980-2004. Due to inaccessibility of some cases, the sample includes approximately 90 percent of the population of officially designated federal terrorism cases during this time. This resulted in the collection of data on 9,598 criminal violations.

Time Method:    Cross-sectional

Weight:    None

Mode of Data Collection:    record abstracts

Data Source:

The AMERICAN TERRORISM STUDY, 1980-2002 (ICPSR 4639), which was expanded to include data for the period 1980-2004.

United States District Court case records from 1980 through 2004.

Information from other open sources, such as newspaper accounts of the trials.

Description of Variables:   

The dataset contains a total of 240 variables. It incorporates 78 variables from the 1980-2004 American Terrorism Study (ATS) database (available as ICPSR 4639), and these variables can be divided into four major categories: (1) demographic information such as the age, race, and sex of the defendant, (2) information about the terrorist group to which the individual belongs including types of preferred and actual targets of the group, (3) prosecution and defense data, which includes identification of the charges, method of prosecution, and other variables reflecting defense strategies such as types of motions filed, and (4) count/case outcome and sentencing data for each defendant.

The Prosecution and Defense Strategies database (PADS) adds 162 variables that track information about the type of defense attorney used as well as important pleadings, motions, and other key events that occur in federal terrorism trials. This collection of data also includes variables that measure whether the defendant received bail, and if not, the reason bail was denied. It contains one set of variables to track whether a superseding indictment was filed in each case, and another set of variables to track the number of counts added or dropped from the original indictment. These counts are coded by statute number and by United States Code Chapter. Other variables track defense challenges to FISA, motions to suppress physical evidence, motions to suppress electronic surveillance, motions to sever counts, motions to suppress statements, and an entire range of pro se motions. In addition, the PADS data include variables to track prosecution motions and outcomes (e.g., whether CIPA protection was sought, motions to exclude defense evidence, challenges to defense strategies, etc.).

Response Rates:    Not applicable

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:   2014-11-11

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