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CONTINUING THE DIALOGUE - CIVIL JURIES AND THE ALLOCATION OF JUDICIAL POWER

NCJ Number
47337
Journal
Texas Law Review Volume: 56 Issue: 1 Dated: (DECEMBER 1977) Pages: 47-60
Author(s)
P E HIGGINBOTHAM
Date Published
1977
Length
14 pages
Annotation
JUSTIFICATION FOR THE ROLE OF THE CIVIL JURY TRIAL IN THE FEDERAL COURTS IS OFFERED.
Abstract
IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE RIGHT TO A CIVIL JURY TRIAL IN THE FEDERAL COURTS HAS ALWAYS REPRESENTED AN ISSUE OF POWER ALLOCATION. ALTHOUGH BRITAIN'S VIRTUAL ABANDONMENT OF CIVIL JURIES IS OFTEN CITED AS EVIDENCE OF THE JURY'S OBSOLESCENCE, EXAMINATION OF THE BRITISH EXPERIENCE POINTS TO CIRCUMSTANCES THAT PRECLUDE SUCH A GENERALIZATION. CRITICS OF THE CIVIL JURY CLAIM THAT THE JURY CANNOT HANDLE BIG OR TECHNICAL CASES AND THAT THE JURY IS AN UNNECESSARY SOURCE OF DELAY AND EXPENSE. IT IS ARGUED THAT THERE IS NO REASON TO PRESUME THAT A JUDGE IS MORE ADEPT AT COMPREHENDING COMPLEX FACTUAL MATERIAL THAN A JURY; THAT BENCH TRIALS MAY ACTUALLY ENGENDER MORE DELAYS THAN JURY TRIALS; AND THAT THE PRESENCE OF THE JURY IMPOSES A DISCIPLINE ON BOTH THE COURT AND THE ADVOCATES TO ANALYZE THE CASE AND TO PRESENT IN CLEARLY. IT IS POINTED OUT THAT THE JURY PERFORMS A VALUABLE FUNCTION BY RESOLVING ARBITRARY FACTUAL ISSUES AND SPARES THE JUDICIARY FROM ENGAGING IN A SUBTERFUGE THAT WEAKENS ITS CREDIBILITY WITH THE PUBLIC. THE ABSENCE OF A JURY GENERALLY RESULTS IN A CORRESPONDING INCREASE IN THE ROLE AND POWER OF THE APPELLATE COURTS. THE JURY PERFORMS AN ESSENTIAL ROLE IN THE FEDERAL SYSTEM BY INFUSING A PUBLIC LAW PERSPECTIVE INTO THE JUDICIAL PROCESS. THE JURY'S ORIGIN IN THE CONSTITUTION AS A POLITICAL INSTITUTION IS REFLECTED IN THE POWER-ALLOCATING FUNCTION IT STILL RETAINS. (AUTHOR ABSTRACT MOFIFIED--LKM)