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NCJ Number: 185140 Find in a Library
Title: Putting the Squeeze on Juries
Journal: ABA Journal  Volume:86  Dated:August 2000  Pages:52-72
Author(s): Mark Curriden
Date Published: August 2000
Page Count: 8
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the trend toward reducing the number of cases decided by juries.
Abstract: The right to trial by jury in the United States is as fundamental as freedom of religion and speech. The ability of citizens to have their cases heard by juries is found in the Sixth and Seventh Amendments. Forty-nine of the 50 States have included the right in their own State constitutions. Despite its reputation as a sacred institution, the jury system has been maligned and condemned during the past two centuries. Currently, evidence of the anti-jury movement abounds, according to a 1-year study of the jury system by "The Dallas Morning News" and the "Southern Methodist University Law Review." The study found that State supreme courts across the country have increased the pressure on trial judges to end more cases at the summary judgment stage instead of letting juries decide whether cases have merit. State and Federal appellate courts in more than a dozen jurisdictions have shifted wholesale areas of decision making away from juries and into the hands of judges. These rulings have required judges to decide cases that involve patents, bankruptcy, employee benefits, consumer protection, fraud, and many misdemeanor crimes. Thirty-three States have set caps on the amount of money that juries can award. Lawmakers in 41 States and the District of Columbia have exempted some industries and professions from tort liability, protecting enterprises that range from tobacco companies to sponsors of equestrian events. Thousands of businesses now use mandatory binding arbitration agreements that require their customers and employees to bypass the jury in favor of a single expert decision maker when disputes arise.
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Judges; Juries; Jury decisionmaking; Right to trial by jury
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