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The jury method of trial has long been a popular subject of legal and lay controversy.'Ever increasing congestion of court calendars, observed instances of allegedly unjust jury verdicts, "ambulance chasing" and other unsavory products of negligence litigation have led to increasing protest against this historic method of trial. It has been attacked as unduly expensive, inefficient, unjust, archaic, and unsuited to the needs of our present civilization. On the other hand, the jury system has been defended as intrinsically sound and highly desirable; the ills have been attributed to abuses and causes not inevitably associated with it and curable by appropriate remedies. Many changes have been suggested and some adopted: abolition or restriction of the jury trial in civil litigation or in certain types of civil litigation, decrease in the number of jurors required to constitute a jury, acceptance of a less than unanimous verdict, provisions that the right to jury trial be deemed waived unless specifically claimed, imposition of various fees and charges on the exercise of the right, and other reforms hopefully advocated as cures of the alleged evils. Individual opinion, founded upon more or less observation and experience, has been the major weapon of attack or defense. Occasionally in recent years, attempts have been made to overcome the inherent weakness of this method of controversy by supporting opinion with statistical facts not subject to dispute or vulnerable as guess or prejudice. The study of law administration in the trial courts con- ducted by the Yale School of Law since 1927 has produced much data of interest. Selected material from that study bearing on the actual use of the jury in civil cases is presented in this article.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Jury Trial in Civil Cases – A Study in Judicial Administration (with Harry Shulman), 43 Yale Law Journal 867 (1934)