Monday, February 11, 2013


If you're like me, you first encountered the courtroom and jury trials by watching movies, or through television shows. One of the most popular television shows about trials is Law & Order.  Law & Order is about criminal trials; when a person is charged with a crime, a criminal defendant has a right to a trial by jury.  What many people don't know or don't fully realize is that as a general rule, plaintiffs in civil cases have a right to a jury trial too!  Here is the text of the 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution: "In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law."  Washington State's constitution includes something similar: "The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate..."  The constitutional right to a jury trial intersects with a big topic in personal injury law, namely, the issue of tort reform, or damages caps.  A damages cap is a limit set by the state on what juries can award plaintiffs in personal injury cases.  This means that no matter what the evidence is in a case, or what the jury thinks that a person's case is worth, the decision is taken out of the jury's hands by the state.  As you will expect, I do not agree with damages caps, and I think that juries should get to rule on the evidence as they see it.  Here's a video of Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley dressing down Lisa Rickard of the Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform on damages caps.


  1. Thanks for sharing! This page was very informative and I enjoyed it. personal injury attorney Lowell MA

  2. The way Mr. Braley criticized Lisa Rickard was worth watching. I didn't understand the what do they meant by "The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate".

    Kristo Jackal
    Personal Injury Attorney Tempa