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New Expedited Jury Trials

New Expedited Jury Trials

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New Expedited Jury Trials

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  1. New Expedited Jury Trials Administrative Office of the Courts Office of the General Counsel Anne M. Ronan December 6, 2010

  2. Expedited Jury Trials (EJT) • Intended to address lack of access to courts with streamlined alternative to traditional trial • Shorter and less expensive trials • Swifter finality in judgments due to lack of appeals • Flexibility in proceedings • Anticipated to work well in • Smaller cases • Cases with single issue in dispute • Cases with high/low settlement agreements

  3. Statutes and Rules • AB 2284 (Evans (2010)) enacted new provisions at Code of Civil Procedure, sections 630.01—630.10 • Judicial Council adopted • Rules of Court, rules 3.1545—3.1552, and • new form Expedited Jury Trial Information Sheet (form EJT-010) • All effective January 1, 2011

  4. Key Provisions • Completely voluntary • Four mandatory elements: • Short trial (3 hours each side) • Smaller jury (8 members) • Fewer peremptory challenges • Jury decision is final (only very limited appeals) • Great flexibility on all other aspects

  5. Applicable law • Code of Civil Procedure and current rules of court apply except for changes set forth in EJT Act and EJT rules of court, or in the parties’ written agreement • But parties cannot agree to change the four mandatory EJT elements (time, size of jury, number of challenges, and finality of judgment) (§ 630.02.)

  6. Agreement of Parties • Participation in EJT entirely voluntary. • Agreement must be set out in proposed consent order • Signed by both parties and counsel • Includes agreement to the 4 mandatory elements of EJT • Includes any other agreements (except high/low agreement) • Other potential agreement topics listed in Rule 3.1547(b) • Procedures very flexible • Includes statement that the parties and their insurers have been informed of EJT rules and procedures and given the Judicial Council information sheet . (§ 630.03.) • Proposed consent order must be submitted at least 30 days before assigned trial date (Rule 3.1547(a).)

  7. Agreement of Parties Continued • If parties include self-represented litigant or a minor, incompetent, or conservatee, agreement to take part in EJT and any high/low agreement must be approved by court. (§ 630.03.) • High/low agreements otherwise not disclosed to court pre-trial and never disclosed to jury. (§630.01(b). • Agreement remains binding unless: • All parties agree to end it, or • Court finds good cause for not holding EJT (§ 630.03.)

  8. Court Action • Approve proposed consent order • Deny in its entirety if finds good cause why case should not be in EJT program Court CANNOT unilaterally change provisions in the proposed consent order. (§630.03(f).)

  9. Who will handle case • PJ will assign judge • Courts have discretion as to how to handle • Temporary Judge acceptable, but only if on court list and meets qualifications under rules 2.810-2.819

  10. Pretrial Exchange • 25 days before the trial, parties exchange • Witness lists, • Exhibits • Depositions for use at trial • Tapes, DVDs, etc. • Proposed jury verdict forms • Juror questionnaires • Motions in limine • 20 days before trial: • supplemental exchange of above items • file motions in limine and lodge all other items with court • Failure to serve the exhibits in advance grounds for preclusion (Rule 3.1548.)

  11. Pretrial Conference • At least 15 days before trial (unless parties have agreed to other time frame) • Court to rule on: • Any objections to evidence exchanged • Agreements re presentation of evidence • Jury questionnaire • Jury instructions and special verdicts • Allocation of time for each side’s case • Motions in limine • Any other procedural issues re trial (Rule 3.1548)

  12. Jury size and selection • Eight jurors, unless the parties have agreed to fewer, with no alternates. • Each side will be allowed up to three peremptory challenges • Possible to have additional challenge in multiple party cases (§ 630.04). • One hour for voir dire, 15 minutes for each side and for judge. (Rule 3.1549.)

  13. Trial • Three hours per side to present case • Includes cross-examination • Traditional rules of evidence apply but parties can stipulate otherwise. (§ 630.06(a).) • Parties encouraged to: • Limit number of witnesses • Use innovative methods to present material to jury (summaries, video testimony of experts, etc.) • Stipulate to facts and evidence where possible (Rules 3.1551--52.)

  14. Jury Verdict • A vote of six of the eight jurors is required • Jury may deliberate as long as needed to reach a verdict – no time limitation on deliberation. • The verdict is binding, subject to any written high/low agreement (§§ 630.05 and .07.)

  15. Post-trial motions • Parties may ONLY make motions: • To correct a judgment for clerical error, • To enforce a judgment, and • For costs and attorney fees • For a new trial only on grounds of: • Judge misconduct materially affecting substantial rights; • Jury misconduct; or • corruption, fraud, or other undue means on part of court, jury, or adverse party. • Motion for new trial must be made within 10 court days of entry of verdict (§§ 630.08—09.)

  16. Appeal • If motion for new trial denied, party may appeal. • Party can only appeal on one of the three grounds permitted for motion for new trial. • No other grounds for appeal permitted. (§ 630.09.)

  17. Sunset Provision • EJT Act only in effect until 2016, unless extended • AOC will be reviewing use of EJTs throughout state and provide report.