Our federal and state governments protect everyone’s right to a jury trial, not only in criminal matters, but in matters involving disputes between people, corporations, and other entities. The founders of our federal and state governments established our civil court system as a way of mediating disputes and administering just settlements when parties disagree. At the heart of this system are a judge and a jury who hear the facts of the case and render a decision.
Without this civil justice system citizens may be left to settle disputes by violence or other means at their disposal. Without a fair civil justice system, the powerful can use their influence to take advantage of those without power. The courtroom is supposed to be a place where those with wealth and power are on an equal footing with average citizens. Recognizing that all men are created equal, the framers of our federal and state constitutions realized that a civil justice system based on the right to a jury trial forms a cornerstone of our form of government.
Federal and State Constitutional Guarantees to a Jury Trial
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Article 1, Section 7
The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, and shall extend to all cases at law, without regard to the amount in controversy; but a jury trial may be waived by the parties in all cases in the manner prescribed by law; and in all jury trials in civil cases, where as many as nine of the jurors agree upon a verdict, the verdict so agreed upon shall be returned as the verdict of such jury, provided, however, that where a verdict is returned by less than twelve jurors all the jurors consenting to such verdict shall sign the same.
How All Citizens Benefit From the Right to a Jury Trial
Even people who never enter a courtroom benefit from our jury trial system. The fact that nursing homes, hospitals, doctors, manufacturers, corporations, and others know they can be taken to court and sued if they injure someone, motivates them to be more responsible in how they conduct themselves. It creates a safer environment so that good citizens can lead their lives without being injured. The alternative is to grow government so big that government agents monitor virtually every aspect of human interaction, including how things are made, how healthcare is administered, how corporations conduct business, and how people treat one another. Imagine the cost of having government inspectors in every doctor’s office monitoring how every patient is treated.
How Issue 1 Undermines the Right to a Jury Trial
- Issue 1 makes it more difficult for injured citizens to file a lawsuit.
- Issue 1 makes it more difficult for an injured citizen to win a lawsuit.
- Issue 1 makes it more difficult for citizens to collect a fair sum if they win a lawsuit.
- Issue 1 ties the hands of judges and juries in deciding damages to award to an injured person.
- Issue 1 allows politicians and lobbyists to dictate which evidence can be heard in court.
Issue 1 puts a low price tag of $500,000 on human life.