This week, the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association enjoyed U.S. District Court Chief Judge John R. Tunheim’s yearly update on the state of the United States District Court for the district of Minnesota.
For Minnesota Litigator, the lasting message was about the stress and the hardship of the partial shutdown of the federal government, which Judge Tunheim emphasized a few times in his presentation. For those of us who are not directly involved, who are not federal employees nor related to any, it was a vivid reminder that this is not “annoying political squabbling” for federal employees and their families. It is a time of genuine anxiety, fear, and concern; it poses a potential imminent threat to their financial well-being (if it is not already causing actual disruption in their lives).
Turning to less pressing and distressing matters, Judge Tunheim presented U.S. District Court statistics of case filings and trials. Here are our takeaways: (1) there was very little change in the number of filings between 2017 and 2018; and (2) while there were over 2,000 civil cases filed in 2018, there were fewer than 20 civil trials. Of course, it is unlikely that any of the 20 civil trials involved any of the 2,000+ cases filed the same year, but we think one can fairly suggest that a civil trial is about a 1% likelihood for any randomly chosen civil lawsuit.