November 04, 2019 Articles

Judge or Jury: A Tale of Two Trials

Learn why and how you may need to change your strategy when you elect to try your case to the bench.

By Scott F. Frerichs

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
—Groucho Marx

Two recent matters, both involving construction disputes, highlight a significant difference between bench and jury trials. During a scheduling conference in the first matter, the judge emphasized that prior to his appointment to the bench, he was an accomplished construction litigator and could conduct a bench trial in less than half the time necessary to complete a jury trial. While the parties anticipated a three-week jury trial, the judge suggested four days to complete a bench trial. Both sides agreed on the spot. Given the short duration, the court’s calendar accommodated setting trial in less than six months.

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