Survey of Judges on the Role of Courts in American Society, 1979 (ICPSR 7824)

Principal Investigator(s): Yankelovich, Skelly; White, Inc.


This survey was conducted in order to obtain from judges their views and experiences regarding the role of courts in American society, specifically on issues of caseload management. From a sample representing five regions of the country, 104 federal and state judges were interviewed about their general work practices and performance in court over the year previous to August 1979. Variables describe the amount of time judges spent on routine judicial activities, characteristics of cases requiring excessive time, the mechanisms employed in the resolution of civil disputes, techniques for reducing or more expeditiously handling heavy caseloads, and suggestions for extra-judicial dispute settlement processes that could serve as alternatives to courts. Data are also available on each judge's legal education, legal experience, and personal background.

Access Notes

  • 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.


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Study Description


Yankelovich, Skelly, and White, Inc. Survey of Judges on the Role of Courts in American Society, 1979. ICPSR07824-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2002.

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office for Improvements in the Administration of Justice

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    case processing, caseloads, civil law, conflict resolution, court cases, court costs, court system, federal courts, judges, judicial decisions, legal systems, state courts, time utilization, work environment, working hours

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1978--1979

Date of Collection:   

  • 1979

Universe:    Federal and state trial court judges in the United States.

Data Type(s):    survey data


Sample:    This data collection is the result of interviews conducted with two types of judges from five districts: Milwaukee/Eastern Wisconsin, South Carolina, Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania, Albuquerque/New Mexico, and Los Angeles/Central California. A random sample of the 41 federal trial court judges actively serving on United States district courts in those districts resulted in 29 interviews, and a purposive sample of the 265 state trial court judges who presided over state courts of general jurisdiction in those districts resulted in 75 interviews. State judges were selected randomly except in two recently unified state jurisdictions -- South Carolina and Wisconsin -- where emphasis was placed on interviewing judges who had previously been state circuit judges. The five districts chosen could not represent the full range of courts throughout the country, but did provide a sample that was representative in terms of region, size, and degree of urbanization.

Data Source:

personal interviews


Original ICPSR Release:   1984-05-03


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