Friday, March 12, 2004
CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY SUPREME COURT
SUMMARY JURY TRIAL RULES
A. Preliminary Considerations. The following shall be considered but shall not be controlling in determining whether or not civil cases are amenable for Summary Jury Trial:
1. Time Necessary for Regular Trial, Damages and Issues Involved. The Court will determine if the regular trial time would be three days or more, including time for jury selection, closings and charge. The Court will also consider the amount of damages and whether complex legal issues are involved.
2. Consent of Parties. The Court will attempt to obtain the consent of the parties to agree to a Summary Jury Trial, but the Court shall have the authority to direct a summary Jury Trial as an extension of the settlement conference without consent.
3. Offer and Demand. The Court will consider the existing offer and demand, if any, in assessing the suitability of a case for Summary Jury Trial.
4. Credibility. The Court will determine whether the major issues of the case can be resolved on the basis of credibility.
B. Summary Jury Trials. The following procedures shall apply to all Summary Jury Trials:
1. Attendance of Parties. Individual parties and an officer or other responsible representative of a corporate party shall attend the Summary Jury Trial, unless excused by the Court. Claims adjusters for insurance carriers are also encouraged to attend.
2. Non-Binding Effect. Summary Jury Trials are for settlement purposes only and are non-binding, unless the parties agree otherwise. Nothing done by counsel, with reference to a non-binding Summary Jury Trial, shall be binding on counsel or the parties or shall constitute a waiver. There will be no official record of testimony by court reporters or tape records, nor will a transcript of a trial be produced. Oral statements made by counsel, or testimony by parties at the non binding trial, may not be referred to or quoted to impeach the parties at the regular trial.
3. Pre-trial submissions. No later than five business days prior to the jury selection date, all parties shall submit to the Court a list of witnesses that may be called, or mentioned, during trial, for use during jury selection; jury charge requests; and proposed verdict sheets. Any jury requested jury charges that deviate from the standard Pattern Jury Instructions, as well as verdict sheets, should be submitted on computer disk, preferably in WordPerfect format, or by e-mail, to email@example.com.
4. Selection of Juries. Summary juries shall consist of no less than six, nor more than eight jurors. The jury will be selected either by counsel, under strict time limitations, or by the Court, in which case counsel need not be present at jury selection. Any responses by jurors suggesting a bias will result in the prospective juror being excused. There will be no concerted effort to rehabilitate mini-trial jurors.
5. Peremptory Challenges: At its discretion, the Court may allow up to two peremptory challenges by each party.
6. Presentation of the Case by Counsel. Each side shall be entitled to a ten minute opening and closing and one hour for presentation of its case. The Court may allot more time if counsel presents a compelling reason to do so. Unless the Judge directs otherwise, the court clerk should keep track of the time and remind counsel of allotted time at appropriate intervals.
a. Presentation of the case by counsel will involve a combination of argument and summation of evidence that would be presented at a regular trial.
b. Counsel may quote from depositions and may use exhibits, affidavits and video tapes. Counsel should not refer to evidence which would not be admissible at trial.
c. No more than two witnesses for each side may be called for direct and cross- examination.
d. Time spent by counsel in direct and cross-examination of witnesses will count against their respective one hour allotted times.
e. The plaintiff shall proceed first and may be permitted a ten minute rebuttal, with permission of the court. If the plaintiff has exhausted the one hour presentation time, plaintiff may use part, or all, of the rebuttal time for cross-examination.
f. Jurors will be permitted to ask questions of the attorneys. The questions must be presented in writing to the court for approval. If the court approves the question, attorneys will be given two minutes to respond.
7. Jury Verdict. As part of the Summary Jury Trial project, the Court should give the jurors a written summary of the jury charge for use during deliberations. A verdict is considered rendered when five out of six jurors agree to the verdict. Counsel may stipulate to having the alternate juror deliberate. On a non-binding trial, the Court may allow alternates to deliberate and render a verdict. Agreement by five (5) jurors shall constitute a verdict.
8. Length of Deliberations. If the jury does not reach a verdict within a reasonable time, the Court will consider polling the jurors individually in an attempt to reach a verdict. The court may set a time limit on deliberations, and, if jurors have not reached an agreement, each juror will be polled in the courtroom on each question presented.
9. Oral Questions to the Summary Jury. After the verdict has been rendered, the Court may propound questions in open court to the jury. The court may allow counsel to present questions to the court or jury.
10. Settlement Conference. A settlement conference shall be scheduled within thirty days of the Summary Jury Trial. Parties, representatives of corporate parties or claims adjusters with authority to settle the case are required to personally attend the settlement conference or be available by telephone the day of the conference.
11. Regular Trial Date Unaffected. Submission of a case to a non-binding Summary Jury Trial will in no way affect the scheduling of that case for regular trial.
12. Existing Offer and Demand. Should a Summary Jury Trial be ordered, the pre-trial offer and demand shall remain unaltered through the Summary Jury Trial and the following settlement conference. Either party may agree to accept the last settlement proposal of the opponent presented prior to the summary jury trial by notifying the Court and opposing counsel.
13. Non-release of Summary Verdict to the Media. The non-binding Summary Jury Trial is an extension of the settlement conference, and as such, the verdict shall not be released to the public or news media.
14. If the parties agree to a binding summary jury trial, a written stipulation shall be signed by the parties and their attorneys. A sample stipulation is available on request. The binding agreement should be stated on the record at the time of the mini-trial and the agreement of all parties as to their understanding confirmed. The binding summary jury trial provides for very limited rights of appeal, as set forth in the sample stipulation.
15. A binding mini-trial will be recorded either by a court reporter, the use of a tape recorder in the courtroom, or a combination of the two as the presiding judge prefers.
16. If the mini-trial is non-binding, the Court will dispense with a formal record.
17. These rules, in terms of time allotted for counsel and the methods of presentation, may be amended by the Court on a case by case basis to suit the circumstances. The guidelines provided in the rules govern absent any other agreement or court order.
SPEECH AT ROCHESTER CLE JANUARY 22, 2004
THIS PRESENTATION IS ABOUT LOVE-NOT LAW. BLAIR COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE HIRAM CARPENTER SAID HE HAS FALLEN IN LOVE TWO TIMES IN HIS LIFE; …WITH HIS WIFE, AND, WITH SUMMARY JURY TRIALS. I HAVE HAD THE IDENTICAL EXPERIENCE, NOT WITH JUDGE CARPENTER’S WIFE, BUT, WITH MY WIFE, AND SUMMARY JURY TRIALS.
CLIENTS PRESENTING OR DEFENDING PERSONAL INJURY CASES OR CONTRACT DISPUTES WANT THEIR LAWYERS TO RESOLVE THEIR CASES AS QUICKLY AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE, WITH THE BEST RESULTS HUMANLY POSSIBLE.
LAWYERS WANT TO SATISFY THEIR CLIENTS BY OBTAINING THE BEST RESULTS POSSIBLE, AS QUICKLY AND ECONOMICALLY AS POSSIBLE. IT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS ON A CONTINGENCY FEE AND AN EVER GROWING OVERHEAD TO MOVE THEIR CASES EXPEDITIOUSLY. AND, IN MOST CASES INSURANCE CARRIERS BENEFIT BY EARLY DISPOSITION OF OPEN CASES.
JUDGES WANT TO KEEP THEIR CALENDARS MOVING AND CURRENT.
THE CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY SUMMARY JURY TRIAL EXPERIMENT PRESENTS POSITIVE PROOF THAT AN AGGRESSIVE, CONSISTENT AND PERSISTENT USE OF SUMMARY JURY TRIALS CAN ACHIEVE THE OBJECTIVES OF CLIENTS, LAWYERS AND THE COURTS.
LITIGANTS SOMETIMES WAIT MONTHS AND MONTHS, AND SOMETIME YEARS FOR RESOLUTION OF THEIR DISPUTES WHILE THEY WAIT FOR THEIR TRIAL DATE TO ARRIVE FOR A TIME AND MONEY CONSUMING TRADITIONAL TRIAL. AND, AS I TOLD THE COMMISSION ON JURORS LAST YEAR, SUMMARY JURY TRIALS WILL DEFINITELY HELP COURTS ACCOMPLISH THE GOALS OF BETTER UTILIZATION OF JURORS TIME AND BETTER SERVE JURORS, AND ACTUALLY FIND JURORS EAGER TO BE SELECTED.
I AM NOT SUGGESTING FOR A MOMENT THAT THE SUMMARY JURY TRIAL PROCESS REPLACE THE TRADITIONAL TRIAL IN ALL CASES. I AM SUGGESTING IT WILL HELP LAWYERS AND JUDGES DISPOSE OF MORE CASES IN LESS TIME THAN THE TRADITIONAL PATH DOES NOW, AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE PROCESS WILL IMPROVE SERVICE TO LITIGANTS. I AM MERELY SUGGESTING THAT LAWYERS AND JUDGES GIVE THE SUMMARY JURY TRIAL PROCESS A FAIR TRIAL RATHER THAN REJECT IT BECAUSE IT IS DIFFERENT.
WHAT IS A SUMMARY JURY TRIAL? IT’S A ONE DAY JURY TRIAL WHERE THE ATTORNEYS AND THE COURT SELECT A JURY, THE JURY HEARS WITNESSES, HEARS AND VIEWS ATTORNEY PRESENTATIONS, OPENINGS, SUMMATIONS, LISTENS TO JUDGE’S CHARGE AND THE JURY RENDERS A VERDICT ALL IN ONE DAY.
WHAT ARE THE BASICS OF A CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY SUMMARY JURY TRIAL?
+ONE DAY TO TRY THE CASE
+STRICT TIME LIMIT FOR VOIR DIRE, 2 CHALLENGES EACH SIDE
+10 MINUTE OPENINGS, 10 MINUTE CLOSINGS EACH SIDE
+ONE HOUR TO EACH SIDE TO PRESENT EVIDENCE.
+LIMIT OF 2 LIVE OR VIDEO WITNESSES; CROSS PERMITTED
+ATTORNEYS PRESENT EVIDENCE ALA ARBITRATION
+MEDICAL EVIDENCE PRESENTED VIA REPORTS, AFFIDAVITS OR VIDEO
+ MORE TIME OR WITNESSES CAN BE ALLOTTED DEPENDING ON THE CASE.
+STREAMLINED JURY CHARGE WITH PJI BASICS
WHY IS THE SUMMARY JURY TRIAL AN EFFECTIVE TOOL?
SLIDE 2 100%
+100 PER CENT OF THE 2002 AND 2003 CASES WE SCHEDULED FOR SUMMARY JURY TRIALS WERE RESOLVED WITHOUT NEED FOR A TRADITIONAL REGULAR TRIAL. ALL OF THESE WERE CASES THAT COULD NOT BE SETTLED IN SPITE OF INTENSIVE EFFORTS BY THE COURT AND ADR PERSONNEL TO SETTLE THEM. THE PARTIES RESISTED SETTLEMENT UNTIL THE CASES WERE SCHEDULED FOR A SUMMARY JURY TRIAL OR TRIED. THE SCHEDULING OF THE SJT SETTLED MOST CASES AS EFFECTIVELY AS SETTING A DATE FOR A FULL SCALE TRIAL.
IN 5 YEARS, ONLY 6 NON BINDING SJTS WENT TO REGULAR TRIAL, AND, MOST OF THESE WERE IN THE EARLY YEARS OF THE PROJECT, BEFORE ATTORNEYS AND INSURANCE CARRIERS BECAME BELIEVERS.
WE ALL KNOW ABOUT THE DELAY AND EXPENSE OF REGULAR TRIALS.
WE ALL KNOW THAT THE COST OF MEDICAL AND OTHER EXPERTS IS $4000 TO $10,000 OR MORE FOR EACH SIDE.
WE ALL KNOW ABOUT THE DIFFICULTY TO SCHEDULE MEDICAL, EXPERT AND OTHER WITNESSES
WE ALL KNOW A REGULAR TRIAL CAN TAKE 5 DAYS TO THREE WEEKS TO TRY, AND
JURY SELECTIONS ALONE CAN TAKE AN ENTIRE DAY.
WE ALL KNOW WHAT WE DON’T REALLY KNOW: THAT IS, WHAT WOULD A JURY VERDICT LIKELY BE ON THE FACTS WHETHER THE CASE IS A BIG TICKET OR RUN OF THE MILL LAWSUIT.
WE ALL KNOW THE EFFECT OF DELAY, EXPENSE AND BACKLOG FEEDS AMMUNITION TO THOSE WHO WANT TO DO AWAY WITH THE JURY SYSTEM
BENEFITS OF SUMMARY JURY TRIALS
+SJT VERDICTS CAN BE BINDING OR NON BINDING
+SJT CAN BE SCHEDULED AND COMPLETED WITHIN 30 TO 60 DAYS OF THE LAST JUDICIAL EFFORT TO SETTLE.
+THE APPROACH OF AN SJT DATE PROMPTS SETTLEMENT JUST AS EFFECTIVELY AS THE APPROACH OF A DATE FOR A REGULAR JURY TRIAL.
+NON BINDING SJTs ARE NOT SIMPLY USEFUL FOR THE SMALL TICKET SLIP AND FALL AND INTERSECTION AUTO CASES - IT CAN BE AND HAS BEEN A USEFUL TOOL TO RESOLVE HIGH STAKE, BIG TICKET CASES WITHOUT THE NEED TO HOLD A FULL SCALE TRIAL.
+SOME LAW FIRMS EXPEND TIME AND MONEY TO EMPLOY VOLUNTEERS TO PERFORM AS JURORS TO GIVE AN OPINION ON LIABILITY AND/OR DAMAGES ON THE FACTS OF AN IMPORTANT CASE. OUR RECORDS PROVE THAT A NON BINDING SUMMARY JURY TRIAL CAN PERFORM THE SAME RESULT FROM A REAL JURY POOL WITH THE ADDED BENEFIT THAT THE RESULT WILL LIKELY HELP SETTLE THE CASE.
SOME ATTORNEYS RESIST THE NON BINDING SJT BECAUSE THEY WILL HAVE TO REVEAL THEIR STRATEGY AND THE OPPOSITION CAN PREPARE FOR IT AT THE REGULAR TRIAL.
I HAVE TWO ANSWERS TO THIS. FIRST, IT HAS BEEN OUR EXPERIENCE THAT THE NON BINDING VERDICT LEADS TO SETTLEMENT. SECOND, GOOD LAWYERS ALREADY KNOW OR CAN ANTICIPATE THE STRATEGY OF THE OPPOSITION.
-IN 1980, JUDGE THOMAS LAMBROS CONDUCTED THE FIRST SUMMARY JURY TRIAL IN HIS FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT. HE USED THE NON BINDING SJT TO RESOLVE BIG TICKET PRODUCTS LIABILITY CASES AND OTHER HIGH STAKE CASES SUCH AS TOXIC WASTE, DEFAMATION, ANTI TRUST, FRANCHISE CANCELLATION, AND FRAUD CAUSES OF ACTION, AND UTILIZED THE RESULTS TO SETTLE MOST OF THEM WITHOUT THE TRADITIONAL MONTH LONG TRIALS.
-HE AND WE HAVE SUCCESSFULLY USED THE NON BINDING SJT IN OTHER BIG TICKET PERSONAL INJURY CASES, INCLUDING, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, AN OCCASIONAL MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASE.
+HE AND WE FOUND THE SJT PROMPTS SETTLEMENTS SOONER, SAVES TIME, MONEY, INCONVENIENCE TO LITIGANTS, WITNESSES, ATTORNEYS, JURORS AND THE COURT
+GIVES LITIGANTS THEIR "DAY IN COURT" MONTHS IF NOT YEARS EARLIER THAN REGULAR TRIAL.
+ AND, MOST IMPORTANT TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THE JURY SYSTEM, THE SJT HELPS PRESERVE TRIAL BY JURY.
+INVOLVES THE COURT IN ITS TRADITIONAL ROLE, UNLIKE ARBITRATION….I DON’T KNOW HOW OTHER JUDGES FEEL ABOUT IT, BUT, WHENEVER THE PARTIES AGREE TO BINDING ARBITRATION, I FEEL LIKE I AM SENDING ONE OF MY GRAND CHILDREN OUT FOR ADOPTION.
THIS SLIDE #3 LISTS SOME OF THE BENEFITS WE DISCUSSED:
INTRODUCE KATHLEEN D. KRAUZA, WHO WEARS THREE HATS AS CHIEF CLERK OF SUPREME AND COUNTY COURTS AND JURY COMMISSIONER IN MY HOME COUNTY OF CHAUTAUQUA, WHO WILL GIVE A 5 MINUTE VIEW OF SJTS FROM A CHIEF CLERK AND JURY COMMISSIONER.
SLIDE NO. 4
Good afternoon. Judge Gerace has done a great job of explaining the Summary Jury Trial process in Chautauqua County, and of course, the many benefits that we have experienced from them. I want to spend a few minutes focusing on the impact that Summary Jury Trials have had on our court and jury operations.
In your materials is a SJT Project Update that outlines our Summary Jury Trial case activity over the last 5 years.
Since the project's inception in October, 1998, 174 cases have been scheduled for Summary Jury Trials.
99 settled before the SJT trial date.
19 were Binding on a high/low basis
37 non binding were settled after the SJT trial.
8 were Discontinued following a SJT.
6 non binding went to a regular trial (all in the early years, none in 2003)
3 scheduled for trial in 2004.
What benefits have I experienced as a court manager?
First, our Caseload is much better to manage. From 1998 to date, case filings (civil , non-mat.) have increased approx. 8% a year in Chautauqua County.
At the same time our percentage of pending cases over Standards and Goals has decreased significantly. At the end of 1998, Judge Gerace had 593 cases pending (13% over S&G), at the end of 2002, he had 434 cases pending (5% over S&G) .
Judge Gerace's disposition rate has also improved. He disposed of 651 nonmatrimonial cases in 2002.
I compiled these types of statistics to promote the Summary Jury Trial program outside Chautauqua , and to try to convince judges to utilize SJTs, but the success for the courts translates into benefits for the bar as well. A congested court calendar can cause difficulties for your practice and hardship for your clients. One solo practitioner told me that he likes not only the efficiency and cost savings of SJTs, but it helps his firm's cash flow because some cases that may would ordinarily taken months and months to get to trial are resolved much more quickly.
In addition to keeping the civil trial calendars moving, SJTs also free up the judge so that regular trials on complex cases can be scheduled much earlier.
From a Facilities standpoint, SJTs are a godsend:
When a case settles on the eve of trial, as many do, the judge ends up with 3 - 5- 10 days with a minimal calendar and a courtroom can remain idle for that time frame as well. With SJTs only one day is set aside, so if the case settles before the SJT date, the downtime is only one day. This is significant in a County like ours where court space is limited.
SJTS have had a positive impact on our Jury operations as well:
The SJT process permits jurors to fulfill their juror obligations in less time and less cost to them, and less cost to attorneys and to the state than the traditional trial.
Think about the smiles on juror's faces when they are told that the trial for which they will be selected will only take one day from beginning to end.
Jurors we have surveyed tell us they felt they had adequate information to make a decision; that the SJT is a practical way to resolve disputes; approve of saving everyone, including themselves and their employers, time and money; and that the copy of the charge was useful, especially in no fault cases. It is important to note that jurors who had prior experience with the traditional trials expressed these conclusions, too.
In Chautauqua County, we bring in a jury panel only one day a week for civil jury selection and three or four traditional trials are scheduled on that day. We also schedule a "pick and go" summary trial for that day and another summary jury trial to be conducted on a day the following week. This means most of our jury panel is involved in jury selection one way or the other. Unless all cases, including the summary jury trials settle, a jury will be selected for one or two cases.
G. Thomas Munsterman, who reported on the Maricopa Arizona and Clark County Nevada summary jury trial programs, in vol 18, issue 1 of the Court Manager, could have been writing about the Chautauqua county program. He wrote:
Jurors in both jurisdictions are very pleased with the short trials as reported on exit questionnaires and in interviews. In fact, Clark county court administrators reported a few instances in which jurors who were not selected were quite angry at being excluded and asked for reconsideration. Especially pleased are jurors who have served in longer cases where a common juror complaint is the waste of time and the seeming repetition in evidence presentation." he also stated that "the jurors who serve on these trials are very satisfied with the program, because they have the opportunity to serve without serving on longer trials that would be more disruptive to their schedules." "Parties and attorneys also express satisfaction with the process."
The SJT Update in your material also includes a report on our Summary Jury Trial Week. Rather than schedule our usual one or two SJT per week, we scheduled and by settlement or trial disposed of 14 SJT cases during the week of June 9, 2003. The Summary Jury Trial Week was designed to illustrate that one judge could dispose of at least 10 to 14 cases in one week and to demonstrate how effective SJTs on a dedicated basis can be in resolving significant number of cases in larger jurisdictions.
SJTS are now included in the ADR Program in the 8th Judicial District. SJTs are utilized in Erie and Niagara Counties. In a metropolitan system, like in Monroe County, judges or JHOs to whom summary jury trials are assigned could conduct one summary trial per day throughout the entire court year. A judge could schedule 10 to fifteen cases a week, thus assuring juries would be utilized every day even if two of the three cases per day settle before trial.
As a Chief Clerk and Jury Commissioner, I can vouch for the fact that Summary Jury Trials are a benefit to litigants, jurors, lawyers and the courts.
I would now like to turn the podium back to Judge Gerace for some brief concluding remarks.
IT IS NO SECRET: THE SETTING OF AN EARLY TRIAL DATE PROMPTS AN EARLY SETTLEMENT.
BUT, GERACE, SETTING A DATE FOR A REGULAR TRIAL HAS THE SAME RESULT! THAT MAY BE, BUT, USUALLY IT IS AT THE COST OF DELAY, AT A COST FOR WITNESSES, A COST OF PAYING DOCTORS FOR EITHER VIDEO OR TRIAL TESTIMONY IN ADVANCE OF TRIAL, A COST OF TRIAL PREPARATION. ALSO, SETTLEMENT OF A CASE ON THE EVE OR EVEN A WEEK BEFORE A REGULAR TRIAL MAY RESULTS IN AN EMPTY COURTROOM FOR A WEEK. SETTLEMENT OF AN SJT ON THE EVE OF TRIAL LEAVES THE COURTROOM EMPTY FOR A DAY.
GERACE, AREN’T YOU MAKING THE PARTIES TRY THEIR CASE TWICE? NO. OUR EXPERIENCE IS PROOF THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN. OUT OF 160 CASES, ONLY 6 WENT TO A REGULAR TRIAL….AND THIS WAS IN THE EARLY YEARS BEFORE ATTORNEYS AND CARRIERS IN CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY BECAME BELIEVERS.
AND IN 2002 AND IN 2003, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF CASES REFERRED TO SJTS , BINDING AND NON BINDING, WERE RESOLVED WITHOUT A REGULAR TRIAL. IN ERIE COUNTY, MOST SJTS ARE BINDING.
RESULT: LITIGANTS HAD THEIR DAY IN COURT AND THEIR CASES RESOLVED AT AN EARLIER DATE AND AT LESS EXPENSE THAN A REGULAR TRIAL, AND WITHOUT HAVING TO TRY THEIR CASES TWICE.
WHY IS THE NON BINDING SJT SO EFFECTIVE IN SETTLING CASES? BECAUSE IT ACTS LIKE A CATHARSIS –THE PARTIES HAVE HAD AN OPPORTUNTY TO TELL THEIR STORIES TO A JURY. I DARESAY PARTIES GIVE THE NON BINDING VERDICT FROM A JURY MORE CREDENCE THAN PARTIES GIVE TO A SETTLEMENT THEY HAVE BEEN HAMMERED BY THEIR ATTORNEY OR A JUDGE TO ACCEPT.
JURORS ARE SURPRISED AND THRILLED THAT A CASE CAN BE DISPOSED OF IN A DAY. JURORS WE HAVE SURVEYED TELL US THEY FELT THEY HAD ADEQUATE INFORMATION TO MAKE A DECISION; THAT THE SJT IS A PRACTICAL WAY TO RESOLVE DISPUTES; APPROVE OF SAVING EVERYONE, INCLUDING THEMSELVES AND THEIR EMPLOYERS, TIME AND MONEY; AND THAT THE COPY OF THE CHARGE WAS USEFUL, ESPECIALLY IN NO FAULT CASES. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT JURORS WHO HAD PRIOR EXPERIENCE WITH THE TRADITIONAL TRIALS EXPRESSED THESE CONCLUSIONS, TOO.
THE SJT PROCESS PERMITS JURORS TO FULFILL THEIR JUROR OBLIGATIONS IN LESS TIME AND LESS COST TO THEM AND LESS COST TO THE STATE THAN THE TRADITIONAL TRIAL.
INVOLVES THE JURY AND THE COURT IN THEIR TRADITIONAL ROLES; LESS DOWN TIME FOR COURT AND COURT FACILITIES;
FEWER JURORS SIT IDLE IN THE JURY ASSEMBLY ROOM WHILE AWAITING A CALL FOR VOIR DIRE THAT MAY NEVER COME.
IN ONE WEEK, ONE JUDGE CAN UTILIZE 35 JURORS TO HEAR 5 CASES. BECAUSE WE NORMALLY USE THE STRUCK METHOD FOR MOST CASES, WE CALL 11 JURORS TO THE JURY BOX FOR THE VOIR DIRE; ASSUMING NO CHALLENGES FOR CAUSE, IN ONE WEEK WE CAN UTILIZE 55 JURORS IN THE ACTUAL SELECTION PROCESS TO DISPOSE OF 5 CASES, COMPARED TO 12 TO 15 JURORS TO DISPOSE OF ONE CASE IN THE TRADITIONAL TRIAL MODE IN THAT SAME WEEK.
IN A METROPOLITAN SYSTEM, JUDGES OR JHOS TO WHOM SUMMARY JURY TRIALS ARE ASSIGNED COULD CONDUCT ONE SUMMARY TRIAL PER DAY THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE COURT YEAR. A JUDGE COULD SCHEDULE 10 TO FIFTEEN CASES A WEEK, THUS ASSURING JURIES WOULD BE UTILIZED EVERY DAY EVEN IF TWO OF THE THREE CASES PER DAY SETTLE BEFORE TRIAL.
IN CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, WE BRING IN A JURY PANEL ONLY ONE DAY A WEEK FOR JURY SELECTION FOR THREE OR FOUR TRADITIONAL TRIALS, BUT, WE ALSO SCHEDULE A “PICK AND GO” SUMMARY TRIAL FOR THAT DAY AND SOMETIMES ANOTHER SUMMARY JURY TRIAL TO BE CONDUCTED ON A DAY THE FOLLOWING WEEK. THIS MEANS OUR JURY PANEL IS INVOLVED IN JURY SELECTION ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. UNLESS ALL CASES, INCLUDING THE SUMMARY JURY TRIALS SETTLE, A JURY WILL BE SELECTED TO HEAR A CASE OR TWO.
DO YOU ATTORNEYS OR JUDGES WANT TO PUT SMILES ON THE FACES OF YOUR JURY PANEL? TELL THEM THEY MAY CONSIDER THEIR CALL FOR JURY DUTY WAS BAD NEWS, BUT, THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THE TRIALS FOR WHICH THEY WILL BE SELECTED WILL ONLY TAKE ONE DAY FROM BEGINNING TO END.
ALTERNATE JURORS. EVEN THO TRIAL ONLY TAKES ONE DAY, WE USE AN ALTERNATE IN THE EVENT OF EMERGENCY OR ILLNESS. IN THE NON BINDING CASES, WITH CONSENT OF COUNSEL, WE ALLOW THE ALTERNATE TO DELIBERATE WITH THE 6 JURORS, BUT NOT VOTE.
I WOULD STRONGLY URGE THAT YOU SUPPORT A CHANGE IN THE LAW THAT WOULD MANDATE THAT IN CIVIL CASES, ALTERNATES BE PERMITTED TO DELIBERATE IN TRADITIONAL AS WELL AS SJTS, WITH OR WITHOUT A VOTE. IN ONE OF THE COMMISSION’S EARLIER HEARINGS A POTENTIAL JUROR TESTIFIED HE WAS UPSET ABOUT BEING CALLED BUT NEVER SELECTED. ALTERNATE JURORS WHO ARE PICKED BUT ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DELIBERATE ARE JUST AS UPSET. THERE IS NOTHING THAT TURNS OFF AN ALTERNATE JUROR MORE THAN TO BE EXCUSED WITHOUT THE OPPORTUNITY TO DELIBERATE AFTER HAVING SAT THROUGH A TRIAL. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE WITH UNDESIGNATED ALTERNATE JURORS.
SUMMARY JURY TRIALS HAVE CREDIBILITY AND PROMISE IN NEW YORK.
FOR OVER 20 YEARS SJTS HAVE BEEN HELD IN US DISTRICT COURTS (FRCP 16).
STATE COURTS INVOLVED IN SJTS INCLUDE ARIZONA, MICHIGAN, VIRGINIA, MASSACHUSSETS, NEVADA, FLORIDA, NEBRASKA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NEW JERSEY, NORTH CAROLINA, TEXAS, PENNSYLVANIA AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
IN NEW YORK: CONCEPT HAS SPREAD TO ERIE, NIAGARA AND MONROE COUNTIES, THANKS TO FORMER ADJ JUDGE VINCENT DOYLE, WHO BAPTIZED THE PROJECT, OUR CURRENT ADJ SHARON TOWNSEND WHO IS AGGRESSIVELY EXPANDING IT, ERIE COUNTY JUDGES JOHN LANE, SUP JUDGE OF CIVIL COURTS IN THE 8TH, JAMES KANE, RICHARD KLOCH, NIAGARA COUNTY JUDGE AMY FRICANO, JUDGE DONNA SIWEK, 7TH ADJ JUDGE THOMAS VANSTRYDONCK, JUDGE ROBERT LUNN OF MONROE COUNTY.
JUDGES KAYE, LIPPMAN, TRAFICANTE, APPROVED THE PILOT PROJECT AND INCLUSION OF THE SJT IN ADR OPTION; PRESIDING JUSTICE HON. EUGENE F. PIGOTT, JR., HAS ACTIVELY PROMOTED SJTS IN THE 4TH DEPARTMENT.
AT THE JURY COMMISSION HEARING, ONE OF THE COMMISSION MEMBERS, A BUFFALO ATTORNEY, SAID HE WAS VERY SKEPTICAL ABOUT THE SJT I HAD ORDERED, BUT, AFTER THE TRIAL, HE HAS BECOME A STRONG BELIEVER. A JUROR TESTIFIED SHE WAS DELIGHTED TO SERVE ON A SUMMARY JURY. BECAUSE SHE IS A TEACHER, SHE WAS PLEASED SHE COULD FULFILL HER COMMITMENT IN ONE DAY.
THE SUMMARY JURY TRIAL PROJECT IS A WORK IN PROGRESS THAT HAS AND CAN HAVE A POSITIVE EFFECT ON THE JURY SYSTEM IN NEW YORK BY:
-HELPING TO PRESERVE THE JURY SYSTEM IN CIVIL CASES
-RESOLVING CASES QUICKLY AND EARLY IN THE JUDICIAL PROCESS
-GIVING LITIGANTS SATISFACTION OF A TIMELY DAY AND SAY IN COURT
-REDUCING TIME AND EXPENSE OF LITIGANTS, JURORS, ATTORNEYS AND THE COURTS
-REDUCING COST TO COURT BUDGET FOR JURY TRIALS
-INCREASES DISPOSITION OF CASES WITHIN STANDARDS AND GOALS
-AIDS JURORS TO FULFILL THEIR OBLIGATION TO SERVE AT MINIMUM COST AND MINIMUM INCONVENIENCE.
THIS PRESENTATION IS BASED ON THE BELIEF THAT:
-ALL ATTORNEYS AND JUDGES WANT TO EXPEDITE DISPOSITION OF CIVIL CASES.
-ALL JUDGES WANT TO REDUCE NUMBERS OF CASES BEYOND STANDARDS AND GOALS
-ALL ATTORNEYS WANT TO PRESERVE THE JURY SYSTEM.
-ALL JUDGES WANT TO REDUCE THE COST OF TIME AND MONEY FOR JURORS, LITIGANTS, ATTORNEYS AND THE COURT
GIVE THE SUMMARY JURY PROCESS A FAIR TRIAL. I GUARANTEE MOST OF YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE AGAIN.