June 20, 2014

PA Civil Case Data Now Interactive, More Accessible Online

Pennsylvania’s Judiciary Friday unveiled the second in a series of interactive, Web-based data dashboards that will allow interested users to quickly analyze and interpret data related to court cases and court operations.
The latest dashboards provide a detailed look at civil cases, including individual displays for mortgage foreclosure filings, medical malpractice cases and protection from abuse cases.
“Data dashboards make information more accessible and are valuable resources to help judges and court staff make more informed decisions about court operations,” said Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille.  “It is also an easy way for the public and those who study court trends to see the important work being done in the judiciary.”
The Statewide Civil Cases dashboard shows the annual filings and dispositions by case type and by county. For example, in 2012 nearly 158,000 civil cases were filed throughout Pennsylvania, with 21 percent of the caseload represented by residential mortgage foreclosures. A graph of disposition types, or the way the courts process cases, illustrates that less than 2 percent of all civil cases are resolved by a trial.
Mortgage foreclosure cases are displayed on a separate dashboard tab, showing the number of residential mortgage foreclosure filings for each county. The dashboard also identifies which counties offer mortgage foreclosure diversion programs.
The Supreme Court has encouraged the creation of home foreclosure mediation programs, where appropriate, to confront the skyrocketing number of home foreclosure filings during the economic downturn.  
A mediation program typically stays the foreclosure proceedings to give a homeowner time to work with a housing counselor to devise and propose a solution to submit to the lender. Twenty-one counties currently have mortgage foreclosure mediation programs. Philadelphia’s program, initiated in 2008, was the first one in Pennsylvania and is nationally recognized as a model.
Another tab on the Statewide Civil Case Dashboard shows medical malpractice cases filed between 2000 to 2013, jury and nonjury verdicts for each county, whether the verdict was for the plaintiff or defendant, and the amount of any plaintiff award.  
Data shows the number of medical malpractice cases filed in Pennsylvania has steadily declined as a direct result of procedural changes initiated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 2004. (See separate news release for details regarding the decline in med mal cases
The Protection from Abuse dashboard shows the annual PFA filings and dispositions, including requests for temporary orders.  Nearly 42,000 PFA petitions were filed throughout Pennsylvania in 2012. The Class of County tab allows the user to view data in groups of counties of similar population size, and the County Comparisons tab allows the user to customize county groupings.
Last week the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts unveiled the first in what will be a series of dashboards, publishing charts that display collection rates and the distribution of court-ordered fees, fines, costs and restitution. Over the coming weeks and months, the AOPC will release additional dashboards highlighting criminal and civil caseloads.
The dashboards with be updated on an annual basis.