February 27, 2020 Practice Points

The Demise of the Civil Jury Trial

Should we care?

By Hon. Mark A. Drummond (Ret.)

Dear Colleagues,

Back in 1996, I was a trial lawyer, and I began writing for this publication. I went on the bench in 1999, and for the past 20 years I have brought you stories from the bench. By the time this column posts, I will have come full circle and hope to join you on the other side of the bench as a trial lawyer once again. When not in court, I will be working as a codirector for the Civil Jury Project at NYU School of Law.

Jury trials are disappearing around the country

Jury trials are disappearing around the country

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“[The project] studies why jury trials are disappearing, asks whether we should care, and suggests things that could be done to reverse the trend,” says Project Executive Director Stephen D. Susman, a longtime ABA Section of Litigation member and legendary trial attorney (emphasis added).

In my last column, I wrote that jury verdicts drive all litigation decisions. With no jury verdicts we lose the benchmarks that each trial attorney must look to in determining exposure, settlement, or alternative dispute resolution. Without clients willing to go to trial and attorneys willing to take cases to trial, we would have absolutely no benchmarks.

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