The Right to a Trial by Jury

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I. The Right to a Trial by Jury: The Threat of Extinction, Limited Availability & Reduced Effectiveness Contrary to what may be a common public perception, jury trials are a dying breed in America. Jury trials have been declining steadily for the past thirty years. “If the trend continues, within the foreseeable future, civil jury trials in America may eventually become…extinct.” This may seem surprising because the U.S. Constitution ensures the right to a jury trial in criminal trials under the 6th Amendment and in civil trials through the 7th Amendment. The reality, however, is that parties are finding more effective, faster, and more cost-effective means of adjudicating legal disputes through alternative dispute resolution…show more content…
This may help curb endless deliberations and notes to the judge pleading for help when the jury reaches an impasse, due to complex issues. The ultimate benefit, however, is the streamlining of the court system to allow the right to a jury trial to be exercised more often when more jurors are available because of the increased efficiency with a trained panel. The main critique of such an innovation is that it violates the “fair cross-section” requirement and does not maintain or build confidence or at least the perception of integrity in the justice system through jury participation by the average lay citizen. It would also appear that restricting a jury to individuals meeting certain criteria would make the right to a jury trial even less likely rather than increase availability if that same case were heard by the larger pool of average lay jurors. Not only would this reduce the size of the jury pool, but also this special jury would not represent a fair cross-section of society for the case that is to be tried
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