Analyzing Trial Time in California, Colorado, and New Jersey, 1986 (ICPSR 9223)

Principal Investigator(s): Sipes, Dale Anne, University of Michigan; Oram, Mary Elsner, University of Michigan


This study of nine courts was undertaken to identify procedural factors that can be used to reduce the length of criminal and civil trials without impairing fairness. The data collection provides direct information on the actual amount of time consumed by various trial segments and the perceived length of trial segments as gauged by judges and attorneys. In addition, data are supplied on the legal community's attitudes toward existing trial length, reasons for it, and judicial control over it. The trial case file contains information on types of cases and trials, estimated trial length, type of disposition, type of defense attorney, number of claims, cross-claims, and counterclaims, number of exhibits introduced, number of expert and lay witnesses called by the defense, number of peremptory challenges, and day and time the trial ended. The questionnaire data contain information on professional experiences, number of cases tried per month, opinions about time consumed by each segment of the trial, estimated time used in each segment, and attitudes toward judicial control over the trial length.

Access Notes

  • One or more data files in this study are set up in a non-standard format, such as card image format. Users may need help converting these files before they can be used for analysis.

  • 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.


DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Civil Trial File - Download All Files (4.474 MB)
ASCII + SPSS Setup   
DS2:  Criminal Trial File - Download All Files (4.363 MB)
ASCII + SPSS Setup   
DS3:  Judge Survey File - Download All Files (4.034 MB)
ASCII + SPSS Setup   
DS4:  Criminal Attorney Survey File - Download All Files (4.042 MB)
ASCII + SPSS Setup   
DS5:  Civil Attorney Survey File - Download All Files (4.042 MB)
ASCII + SPSS Setup   

Study Description


Sipes, Dale Anne, and Mary Elsner Oram. ANALYZING TRIAL TIME IN CALIFORNIA, COLORADO, AND NEW JERSEY, 1986. ICPSR version. Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts [producer], 1988. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1989.

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (85-IJ-CX-0044)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    attitudes, attorneys, case processing, disposition (legal), judges, time utilization, trial procedures, trials

Geographic Coverage:    California, Colorado, New Jersey, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1986-03--1987-01

Date of Collection:   

  • 1986-03--1987-01

Universe:    Civil and criminal trial cases, trial judges, and civil and criminal attorneys in California, Colorado, and New Jersey.

Data Type(s):    survey data


Sample:    There are two samples. In the trial case sample, cases were obtained from a convenience sample of ongoing trials heard during March 1986-January 1987 in three counties in each of the three states. For the survey, mailing lists of judges, civil plaintiff's attorneys, private criminal defense attorneys, criminal prosecutors, and public defenders were obtained from the court administrator's office at each site. Completed surveys were received from 57 judges (50 percent response rate), 197 criminal attorneys (47 percent), and 131 civil attorneys (38 percent).

Data Source:

self-enumerated forms


Original ICPSR Release:   1989-09-26

Version History:

  • 2006-01-18 File CB9223.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2005-01-14 The second version of the Criminal Trial File (former Part 3 on the download page), which was redundant with Part 2, was removed.

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