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Federal appeals courts saw 12% fewer appeals filed nationwide during fiscal year 2007, while federal trial courts saw an up tick in criminal prosecutions mostly related to sex offenses, according to newly released caseload statistics. Although bankruptcy filings in 2007 hit the lowest level since 1990 due to a drop following implementation of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, the filings rose steadily throughout the year. The final quarter of the year saw 218,909 petitions filed, an increase of 28% over the same period a year earlier. The drop in appellate cases to 58,410 in all regional circuits, from 66,618 for the same period in 2006, was attributed to clearing a backlog of resentencings under the Supreme Court’s U.S. v Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), case and a 21% decline in administrative appeals from the Board of Immigration Appeals, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Despite the decline, the median time from filing the notice of appeal to a final disposition increased from just over 10 months in 2004 to lightly over a year in 2007. The longer processing time for Booker appeals was blamed for the increase, the administrative office reported. Civil filings in federal trial courts also dropped slightly — less than 1% — with civil rights suits, prisoner petitions and social security filings all off during the year, the administrative office reported. A drop in personal injury claims stemming from asbestos and diet drugs in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania accounted for the majority of the 10% decline in diversity of citizenship filings during the year. Federal prosecutors pressed forward with more criminal cases. New filings grew 2% during 2007, focusing on sex offenses, chiefly crimes related to sexually explicit materials, up 31% during the period over 2006. Meanwhile, drug cases dropped 2% to 17,046, although marijuana prosecutions increased 5% in that group. New immigration filings increased 2% to 16,722, with 74% of that stemming from charges of improper reentry by an alien into the United States. And the majority of all immigration cases, 71%, were filed in just five southwestern border districts in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Southern California alone saw immigration filings jump 21% and in Arizona 21%.

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