Civil Procedure Outline - Juries

    **Abridged Juries**

  1. The Seventh Amendment preserves the right to trial by jury. (One party must affirmatively ask for a jury!)
  2. After FRCP 2 merged equity courts with common law courts, the question of whether you get a jury was muddled. Test for getting a jury (Beacon, Terry, Markman)…
    • Would the legal nature of the claim, or a similar analogue, have been heard by an equity court or a common law court in England in 1791?
      • Equity courts (no jury) heard cases for injunctions, contract rescissions, and specific performance requests.
      • Common law courts (jury) heard issues of fact like libel, fraud, and contract breach.
    • Does the type of relief sought usually require a jury trial? (Dairy Queen)
      • Injunctions and declaratory judgments are usually not suitable for juries.
      • Monetary damages are usually jury issues unless they are restitutionary or they are incidental to or intertwined with a request for injunctive relief. (Terry)
    • Is one judicial actor better positioned to decide the issue in question? (i.e. patent term construction, Markman)
  3. Selection of juries is accomplished through voir dire. Judges may dismiss potential jurors for cause if they cannot be unbiased.
    • Through voir dire questioning, attorneys attempt to figure out on whom to use their preemptory challenges. A juror can be excused on any basis except…
      • Race (Batson, Edmonson)
      • Gender (JEB v. Alabama)
    • Challenging a strike
      • If a party wishes to challenge a strike, they must make a prima facie showing that the strike was due to race or gender discrimination.
      • The striking party must then articulate a race or gender-neutral reason for the strike.

**Full Juries**

  1. Constitutional Right to a Jury
    1. Seventh Amendment says "the right of trial by jury shall be preserved."
      1. SCOTUS has interpreted this to mean that those cases that were in common law courts in 1791 get to go to jury.
      2. Also, no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined , other than according to the rules of the common law.
        • This allows judge to set aside the rule of the jury, since this happened in common law.
    1. Historical Origins
      1. Equity courts- dealt with issues of "justice"
        • Tried by a judge.
        • Remedy was injunctions and specific performances and reformation or rescission of a contract.
      1. Common law courts- dealt with issues of facts
        • Tried by a jury.
        • Remedy was monetary.
      1. FRCP Rule 2 merged law and equity courts.
        • However, the distinction is still important to determine which cases are tried by jury since cases that would have been in common law courts in 1791 go to jury.


  2. Modern Developments
    1. The historical test often proves to have dysfunctional results. There is a modern movement toward developing a consistent interpretation of the Seventh Amendment.
      1. Three cases reflect this "dynamic concept" of the jury-trial right.
      2. Inquiry is directed not to the actual arrangement of legal and equitable issues in 1791, but "to the distinctive common law process of adjudication and lawmaking that…was recognized as flexible and changing."
    1. Beacon Theatres v. Fox
      1. Fox sought declaratory judgment against Beacon, who was "threatening" to file an antitrust suit (clearly equity remedies). Beacon counterclaimed asserting antitrust violation and treble damages (common law monetary remedies). Beacon demanded a jury trial.
      2. Ct of Appeals said only the original claim mattered, so the case should not go to a jury.
      3. SCOTUS  reversed and ordered that prior to trial of any equitable issues by the court, all factual issues raised by the legal aspects of the case must be tried to a jury.
        • Historically, the "basic nature of the case" had been ascertained to determine whether there was a right to trial. If there were both legal and equitable issues, but the case was determined to be equitable, the judge would employ the "clean up doctrine" and decide all aspects of the controversy.
        • SCOTUS said that the right to a jury was more important, and the "clean up doctrine" could only be applied where the legal issues were subordinate to the equitable ones.
      1. Holding: No test utilizing traditional equity procedure could interfere with the right to have a jury determine all the factual issues associated with a legal claim.
        • When a trial involves questions that require answers by both judge and jury, the judge's answers should never include answers that the jury should give. Jury questions should be decided first if the two collide.
        • Presumption toward jury trial.
        • Requires that the right to jury trial be measured in light of modern procedural developments, especially reforms that make available a remedy at law that previously did not exist.
    1. Dairy Queen v. Wood
      1. Trademark-licensing agreement. P brought action for breach of contract, asking for injunctions and an accounting to determine the exact amount of money owed.
      2. Claims were essentially equitable, but SCOTUS said that since the remedy was monetary, there should be a jury.
        • Essentially, SCOTUS said that virtually no use of the clean-up doctrine was constitutional.
        • The choice of terms ("accounting" rather than "damages" or "debt") used in the pleading should not preclude a right to jury.
      1. Judge could assist the jury with complicated calculations under FRCP 53(b).
    1. Teamsters v. Terry reaffirmed the importance of a jury trial when the legal remedy was monetary (in this case back pay from the union for breach of fair representation).
      1. Dissenters said that since the relationship was one of trustee and beneficiary (traditionally under equity), that the majority was parsing legal elements out of an equitable claim without any good procedural reason to do so.
      2. Terry Court involved a two-part test:
        1. "Historical Test"- does the claimed right have a common law analogue?
          1. If YES- Jury Trial
          2. If No- go to part two
        1. Remedies Test- is the remedy being sought a legal remedy (damages) or an equitable remedy (injunction)?
          1. If LEGAL- Jury trial
          2. If EQUITABLE- Judge
            1. MONETARY damages are most likely legal, but there are some exceptions:
              • Restitutionary- such as in "actions for disgorgement of improper profits."
              • Incidental- "incidental to or intertwined with injunctive relief"
        • Terry  Court said second part of the test is most important


    1. Markman v. Westview brought up some of the dissent's concerns.
      1. Case involved patent-infringement. Question was over the definition of the term "inventory" in the very complicated patent.
      2. When a review of history provided no clear answers as to whether a judge or a jury was to decide, SCOTUS ruled that the issue could be determined by the judge, since he was in a better position to understand the patent terms.


  3. Statutory Causes of Action- Congress and Jury Trials
    1. If Congress creates a new type of claim and expressly affords a jury trial (even if historically a pure equitable claim), then you'd get a jury.
      1. This is also usually true if Congress forgets to include it.
    1. But what If Congress expressly says "no jury" or creates administrative tribunal to decide the issue instead?
      1. If the claim involves public rights, courts would probably respect the alternative approach (worker's comp, for example, is a new regime for compensating certain types of claims where there is no jury).
      2. But if a clear legal claim involving private rights, courts would probably still require a jury due to the Seventh Amendment.


  4. Selecting Juries
    1. "Random" selection of people from the general population empanelled by court.
      1. Convicted felons are automatically excluded.
    1. Qualified Jurors are assembled into venires, and are brought before the judge and attorneys for questioning.
      1. Frequently asked to fill out forms with basic information for the court and attorneys to review ahead of time.
      2. Attorneys may conduct research about the prospective jurors.
        • Check criminal reports, employment history, talk to neighbors and friends.
        • Jury experts can be employed to figure out the best and worst possible jurors for each party.
    1. Voir Dire
      1. Sometimes questioning is done by a judge, and sometimes the attorneys are permitted to do questioning.
      2. During the process, some jurors are excused for "cause" which means the court has determined that a particular juror can't serve in an unbiased, impartial manner.
        • No limit to number that can be excused for cause.
      1. Peremptory Challenges
        • Each side is allotted a certain limited number of these challenges that can be used to excuse prospective jurors for almost any reason.
        • An attorney tries to use peremptory challenges to ensure that the jury will be favorable to his client.
      1. Batson v. Kentucky addressed the issue of whether an attorney can strike a jury member solely because of that juror's race.
        • During the criminal trial of Batson, a black man, the prosecutor struck all four black men in the pool.
        • SCOTUS reversed Batson's conviction, holding that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment limits the ability of an attorney to use race as a basis for making peremptory challenges.
      1. Edmonson v. Leesville applied the Batson doctrine to civil litigation.
      2. JEB v. Alabama addressed whether this was also true of gender.
        • Involved a lawsuit against an alleged father for child support.
        • Alabama's lawyer struck all men. JEB's lawyer struck all women. There were more men than women, and a female jury resulted.
        • SCOTUS held that gender, like race, is an unconstitutional proxy for juror competence and impartiality.
        • Scalia dissent: Since all groups are, at one point or another, depending on the case, subject to peremptory challenge, it is hard to see how the Equal Protection Clause applies. The whole point is to discriminate.
      1. Basically, the result of these rulings is that attorneys have to provide more "window dressing" reasons for excluding jurors that aren't related to race or gender.


  5. Controlling Juries
    1. Jury Instructions
      1. Parties submit proposed instructions to the court, court decides what to use.
      2. Counsel prepare their respective closing statements with theses instructions in mind.
      3. An error of law in jury instructions can lead to the reversal of a verdict if the error is deemed prejudicial.
      4. Some question about whether juries actually understand the instructions they get.
        • Language tends to be legal jargon, not readily comprehensible to a layperson.
      1. Mitchell v. Gonzalez
        • Court ruled that a jury instruction which used the term "proximate cause" was misleading when considering whether the adults who permitted the child to go out on the lake were responsible for the drowning of that child, who couldn't swim.
        • This is an example of issues that arise when jury instructions are not in lay terms.
    1. Jury Verdicts
      1. General Verdict- does not include any specific findings or explanations.
        • Just announces which party is entitled to judgment, and the amount of damages.
      1. Special Verdict- jury is asked to decide a specific factual contention/s.
        • Then, the judge applies the law to these facts.
        • Special verdicts limit the extent to which a jury can ignore or circumvent its duties.
        • However, they also divest the jury of its ability to bring the common sense of the community into the decision-making process.
      1. General Verdict with Interrogatories- jury is asked to answer specific factual questions as well as to apply the law to the facts.