National Juries for National Cases: Preserving Citizen Participation in Large-Scale Litigation
Valparaiso University Law School
New York University Law Review, Vol. 83, 2008
Valparaiso University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-01
Procedural evolution in complex cases seems to have left the civil jury behind. The trend toward centralization of cases pending on the same topic in one court results in cases of national scope being tried by local juries; this reality is a catalyst for forum shopping and a frequent justification for calls to eliminate jury trial in complex cases altogether. Yet the jury is at the heart of a uniquely American understanding of civil justice, and the Seventh Amendment still mandates its use in federal cases. This article makes a bold new proposal designed to preserve the constitutional and functional value of citizen participation in the civil justice system by aligning the jury assembly mechanism with the scope of the litigation. Thus, in cases of national scope, juries should be assembled from a national pool. This idea would eliminate incentives to forum-shop into local jury pools, and would make the decisionmaking body commensurate with the polity that will feel the effects of its decisions. We might also expect a higher level of legitimacy for decisions rendered by a national jury in national cases because they would not be subject to the criticism that a local jury is imposing its values on the rest of the country, and because geographical diversification of the jury would enhance the quality of decisionmaking.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: juries, large-scale litigation, national juries, national cases
Date posted: September 18, 2007 ; Last revised: April 11, 2008
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