Recently, a personal injury lawyer argued as he wrote for the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association Blog that it was probably time to move past having civil juries. Civil juries have been an essential part of cases such as car accidents and other circumstances of personal injury. However, with the justice system already overburdened and extremely slow, it may be time to reconsider juries’ inclusion in civil cases. With the complications of modern law and the legal system’s nuances, why would it make sense to abandon civil juries in personal injury cases?
They Are Unnecessarily Long
Typically, in personal injury cases, both sides need to make opening and closing arguments for the jury’s benefit. According to Horst Shewmaker Law, this complication adds extra time to hear these cases. Preparation and presentation of evidence also require the due care necessary. Throughout the trial, there are provisions for interruptions and other situations that may arise. If the jury is unsure about the state of the law or who is at fault, it may be confusing for them and could lead to an erroneous sentence. Trials that rely on a jury are also more expensive than judge-only trials and rely on more resources to come to a verdict.
Complex Decisions Required
Most juries aren’t aware of the law’s ins and outs that make up the trial they preside over. Personal injury cases, for example, are already complex to deal with. Judges and lawyers both know what they’re arguing for. With the right language, a guilty defendant can have their lawyer get them off on a technicality. Yet, with so many people watching true crime shows, most juries believe they’re aware of the details of the law. Media tends to affect jurors, according to the Criminal Law Journal. The problem becomes even more of an issue when we remember that these jurors are not being paid. How can we rely on these individuals to rule in a particular situation if they aren’t even paid for their service?
The Pandemic Isn’t Helping
With legal systems around the world looking at how to streamline their efforts, the push for removing civil juries in some personal injury cases seems to be getting some traction. Juries, selection, arguments, and adjudication take up a lot of extra time that might be used to deal with more cases if there was only a judge involved. This change may put more focus and pressure on judges, but they’ve shown that they are up to the challenge, should it arise. Remote hearings and trials are a decent way to deal with the situation, but they are plaster over a gaping wound that describes the existing system’s shortcomings.
A More Efficient System Requires Sacrifices
All defendants should have timely access to courts and justice. At the moment, this isn’t possible, and civil cases have been pushed to the back of the queue. If more of those cases were to be tried and sentences handed out by a competent judge, the system would move a lot more efficiently. To see a change like that happen, we’d need to give up our dependence on the jury system for these cases. This evolution might be the only way the legal system could survive in the current environment.