May It Please the Court® A Weblog of Legal News & Observations
Quote of the Day - To give up the task of reforming society is to give up one's responsibility as a free man. - Alan Paton

California Supreme Court Rules Contractual Jury Waivers Unconstitutional

Jury waivers (actually not the kind of jury in that last link about artists - we're talking contractual waivers of court juries) are unconstitutional, and against public policy.

We've known known this was coming. The Supremes agreed to review the appellate case that went the same way last year. There was, however, an earlier case from 1991 [Trizec Properties, Inc. v. Superior Court (1991) 229 Cal.App.3d 1616] that upheld such contractual waivers, but it's now been overruled - unanimously - but only kind of.

Justice Chin "reluctantly" joined in the opinion, and in his concurring opinion asked the California Legislature to legalize the practice. He thinks contractual provisions allowing the waiver of jury trials will unburden the court system. The one argument in favor of allowing a waiver of jury trials is already there, though. California Civil Code of Procedure section 631(d)(2), says that you can waive a jury trial "by written consent filed with the clerk or judge."

What that statute typically means, however, is that waiver occurs after filing the suit, during the litigation and not before. That's how the Supreme Court decided yesterday, and now it will take the Legislature to restore it back to the way it was before.

Meanwhile, we're going to court.

Podcast 

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, August 05, 2005


MIPTC Home | View Weblog Archive

Back to top.