Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Seventh Amendment

Okay, who out there has the mighty Seventh Amendment down pat?  Anyone?
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.
As the Constitution was being formulated, Mr. Williamson from North Carolina raised the issue of civil trials.[i]  Although his proposal was not addressed in the core of the Constitution a number of representatives voiced concern about how to address the issue with language that would be acceptable to the several states.  Thus, we come to the Seventh Amendment.
This is another carry over of English common law and throughout our history the courts and the Congress have tinkered with the actual rules governing the implementation.  We started out with the requirement for 12 good men who had to agree unanimously, and have now come down to six men or women who must reach a majority opinion. 
This amendment applies to courts under the jurisdiction of the federal government and does not necessarily control the composition of the state court trials.
And as we see daily on reality TV the litigants can waive their rights and agree to a trial by a judge. 
Personally, I think we should also consider trial by combat as a TV option.

[i] https://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/html/amdt7frag1_user.html#amdt7_hd4

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