Is there a way to find out how many cases have been filed under a particular act or law? Bonus if it is possible to filter by location, parties, etc.

I am primarily interested in this for the US (or any states where this is possible) but it would be interesting to see if there are information sources about this abroad as well.

Any queryable or scrapable source is sufficient.

  • I think this will depend on the court. The answer will vary at the federal/state level, and possibly in some other subtle ways. PACER is the electronic record system used by the federal court system, but access is expensive. Lexis Nexis might be an option if you want a pay solution. – respectPotentialEnergy Sep 17 '15 at 15:08

This is an example of a question that we won't be able to answer until the CourtListener archive is complete. Using the data that is available, one could run queries there for particular statutes by citation or name.

For example, if interested in the Convention Against Torture, do a query at CourtListener for that with surrounding quotes, or if interested in cases invoking "42 U.S.C. § 1983" query that.

But cases aren't always "filed under" a particular statute. When filing a federal lawsuit one is required to fill out a cover sheet and choose a "Nature of Suit" (NOS) code that categorizes the case somewhat, but many lawsuits involve more than one issue, so a case alleging both copyright and trademark infringement might only be listed under the copyright NOS code and so even if you could search across all the NOS codes you wouldn't get exactly what you want. A separate problem illustrated by this example is that Copyright law is vast. Cases dealing with 17 U.S.C. § 107 (fair use) are often totally different from cases dealing with 17 U.S.C. § 109 (the first sale doctrine).

So, in some ways your question is not exactly framed in an answerable form. What could be done (when CourtListener's archive is complete) is we could create a giant list of every opinion that mentions "17 U.S.C. § 107" and every opinion that mentions "17 U.S.C. § 108", "17 U.S.C. § 109", etc. through the entire United States code. That would be really interesting. What is the most litigated part of the code? What statute is cited the most? etc.

The best collection of federal district court opinions that you could download/scrape would be the RECAP collection from the good people at CITP, hosted by the Internet Archive here: https://archive.org/details/usfederalcourts

However, that collection includes any kind of document that might appear on a federal docket, including complaints, briefs, declarations, etc. and so it would take some additional effort to sort out the opinions from the rest. One day CourtListener will ingest that collection and make this easier for people trying to tackle questions like yours.

  • Is there any chance you have directions for how to import your all.xml file into a database (either mysql or sql server)? – soandos Aug 14 '14 at 1:29

It's not cases filed, but you can find some pretty amazing legal resources on CourtListener. They have a search engine, bulk data, and API access to approximately a hojillion court opinions from around the US.

  • very cool. Is there a way of going below the appellate (to the district) level? – soandos Dec 29 '13 at 20:57
  • I'd ask brianwc above. But this stuff is all being collected by outside groups. You (or anyone) could contribute code to gather opinions from courts they haven't covered yet. – Eric Mill Dec 30 '13 at 23:12

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