2016 Save Our Juries Town Hall
 
 
SAVING THE AMERICAN JURY TRIAL
California Governor, Chief Justice, other leaders gather at Town Hall meeting to discuss solutions to a disappearing Constitutional right
 
SACRAMENTO (Nov. 18, 2016) —  Seeking to explore and solve the problem of dwindling civil jury trials in the United States, leaders from across California participated in a Save Our Juries Town Hall on Nov. 18 at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.
 
After a brief introduction of the mission and importance of the American Board of Trial Advocate's dedication to civil jury trials by Charles H. Baumberger, the audience welcomed a surprise guest speaker, California Governor Jerry Brown, who reiterated the need to preserve the Seventh Amendment.
 
"Preserving the civil jury is a challenge, it’s important and it’s very much at the heart of democracy,” said Brown.
 
The event’s discussion panels — which included leaders in law, government and business — will followed a conversation on the state of juries and the civil justice system between moderator Mark P. Robinson, Jr., and Hon. Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. 
 
While most Americans do not realize that the jury trial is disappearing, a national survey showed that the Seventh Amendment right to a civil jury trial is a basic tenet of democracy.
 
But the facts are startling.
 
Fewer than 1 percent of all federal civil cases reach jury trials, and that number continues to decline across the country. The cause is multi-faceted, a perfect storm of tort reforms, binding arbitration, archaic jury summoning practices, and negative perceptions of jury duty by the general public.
 
“Type ‘How to get out of jury duty’ into Google and you’ll get more than 10 million hits,” said Robinson, chair of the Save Our Juries initiative. “Getting out of jury duty has become a badge of honor, as if we need to show our friends that we were smart enough to ‘crack the code’ and escape.”
 
Two of the event panels will discuss possible solutions to the public approach to jury duty. One panel discussed the faster jury trial – how attorneys and judges can institute new practices to shorten trial times out of respect for juror’s time.
 
In California the problem is even more acute, Robinson said. “We have the longest civil jury trials in the country, averaging 8.9 days, while the national average is 3.6 days.
 
He said that the impact of lengthy jury duty on jurors’ jobs and families is real and must be addressed.
 
The Jury Innovations and Juror Response panel comprised of Sacramento County judges discussed other ways the courts can create programs and procedures to make this civic duty less burdensome for jurors.
 
The Town Hall’s panel on arbitration is of growing importance, as binding arbitration agreements, which limit access to jury trials, become increasingly prevalent in consumer agreements. Nancy Drabble, Executive Director of the Consumer Attorneys of California, said that there are nearly 500 million consumer and employment contracts containing these clauses.
 
In attendance at the Town Hall were leaders in business, government, insurance companies, and lobbying groups, as well a members of the local public and media.
 
 

About Save Our Juries
Save Our Juries is a public education campaign founded by the American Board of Trial Advocates aimed at informing and mobilizing citizens in the fight to save our disappearing Seventh Amendment right, which guarantees a jury trial for civil cases in federal courts. ABOTA established Save Our Juries to counter the influences that limit citizens’ access to our nation’s civil jury trial process.
 
 
About the American Board of Trial Advocates
The American Board of Trial Advocates, founded in 1958, is an organization dedicated to defending the American civil justice system.  With a membership of more than 7,500 experienced attorneys representing both the plaintiff and defense bars in civil cases, ABOTA is uniquely qualified to speak for the value of the constitutionally-mandated jury system as the protector of the rights of persons and property.
 
The ABOTA Foundation was established in 1992 to provide education to the American public about the right to trial by jury and to promote the professional education of trial attorneys.

 

Special thanks to the Sacramento Valley Chapter of ABOTA and the following panelists:
 
Mark P. Robinson, Jr.
Governor Jerry Brown
Hon. Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California
 
The Faster Jury Trial
Brian Kabateck
Michael P. Maguire
Allan Zaremberg
 
Arbitration
Nancy Drabble
Jesse M. Rivera
Gilbert A. Dickinson
 
Jury Innovations and Juror Response
Hon. David De Alba
Hon. David Abbott
 
Sacramento MIT Faculty
Hon. David I. Brown
William Callaham
Katherine Ebert
Rudy Nolen
Lewis R. Sifford
Jill Telfer
Andrew Walker