Commercial Litigation: To Jury or Not To Jury, That is the Question
4/28/2015 | Commercial Litigation Blog
The famous commercial litigator, William Shakespeare, Esquire first asked the question above (as I recall, anyhow) in 1603. So what’s the answer?
Here are some reasons why you, as a party to litigation (especially commercial litigation), might (or might not) want a jury trial :
1. Because a jury is more likely to be swayed by sympathy than a judge, you might want a jury trial if your position is more sympathetic than your opponent’s.
2. You might want a jury trial if your opponent is a big, bad insurance company, bank, or other large corporation (and you aren’t).
3. It takes longer to get a jury trial in many jurisdictions than a non-jury trial. This can sometimes be an advantage, and other times, not.
4. You have a case that regular folks (like jurors) are likely to understand well, you might want a jury trial. If your case turns on complicated facts, you might prefer a bench trial (though this can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on which judge is assigned to hear the case).
5. Juries tend to be more generous with Defendants’ money. if you are a Plaintiff, you might prefer a jury; if you are a Defendant, you probably won’t.
6. Jury trials are more expensive (sometimes a LOT more expensive) than bench trials. If you think you want a jury trial, you should consider the additional expense.
The truth is that very few civil cases are tried before a jury. If this wasn’t so, the entire system would grind to a halt. Also, not every type of case is entitled to be tried before a jury. Finally, in some cases involving contracts, the contract contains a jury waiver, in which case a jury trial is unavailable.
You should consider the factors set forth above (and others) before you demand a jury trial. We can help you decide how best to handle your matter.