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

Published: Mar 30, 2006

Principal Investigator(s):
Donald R. Songer


Version V1

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).

Songer, Donald R. United States Courts of Appeals Database Phase 1, 1925-1988. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-03-30. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02086.v1

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National Science Foundation (SES-8912678)

United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics

1989 -- 1990

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.

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.


administrative records data



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.

1998-05-27 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.

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.


  • The 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.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.