THE EROSION OF THE RIGHT TO TRIAL BY JURY
Prior to 2003 – unfettered right to trial by jury
As a trial lawyer, I have tried many civil damage cases to a jury. The jury decides who is a fault and how much money will fairly and justly compensate a victim of negligence. It is a very rare occurrence that a jury verdict is not fair and just. If a jury verdict is not fair or just, the trial judge can set it aside and order a new jury trial. There are two levels of appellate courts that can also correct any jury verdict that is not fair or just. The 7th amendment of the U.S. Constitution used to guarantee every tort victim the right to have a jury determine the amount of damages that are fair and reasonable.
In 2003 – right to trial by jury was restricted
In 2003, a very republican legislature passed a law that takes away the right to have a jury decide damages in healthcare liability cases and to arbitrarily place a cap of $250,000 on damages for physical pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, physical impairment, and mental impairment. If a victim of doctor or hospital negligence is permanently paralyzed, the maximum amount of money that can be recovered against the wrongdoers for physical pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, physical impairment, and mental impairment is $250,000. This is the law in Texas, despite the fact that over 100,000 people a year are killed by medical and hospital errors in the United States.
7th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Right to a trial by jury 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.
I am amazed that the tort reformers have been able to snooker the American public into accepting having their right to trial by jury.