Interpretation: The Seventh Amendment

To many Americans, jury trials seem to be the convention way of deciding civil cases. television programs and movies show excite scenes of juries deciding authoritative non-criminal disputes involving individuals, government officials, and companies .
The reality is different. Juries decide less than one percentage of the civil cases that are filed in court. This miss of jury trials may seem foreign, as the Seventh Amendment guarantees the correct to jury trial in certain civil cases .
There are two main types of court systems in the United States : federal and state. The Seventh Amendment requires civil jury trials alone in federal courts. This Amendment is unusual. The U.S. Supreme Court has required states to protect about every other right in the Bill of Rights, such as the right to criminal jury test, but the Court has not required states to hold civil jury trials. Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad Co. v. Bombolis ( 1916 ). about all of the states, however, have rights to civil jury trial in certain cases in their state constitutions .
The United States is about the only nation that continues to require civil jury trials. Civil juries similar to those in the United States are not character of the legal traditions of the continent of Europe or the legal systems derived from those traditions, including in Latin America and Asia. even in England and its former colonies of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, civil jury trial has virtually been abolished.

Why did some persons at the establish of the United States think that civil jury trial was then authoritative that it should be guaranteed in the union and submit constitutions ? To understand the Seventh Amendment, we need to go back into history and the English legal system. much of the legal system in the United States, and specially the provisions of the Bill of Rights, are based on America ’ s English roots .
The civil jury was an old english initiation, older even than the condemnable jury. Since the middle ages, the English had used juries of persons not trained in law to decide certain civil cases. There were constantly some english courts that did not use juries. In these courts, judges decided cases. The most important of these juryless courts was Chancery, besides known as equity .
In the eighteenth century, as the desire of american colonists for independence from Britain grew, the jury in America became more significant. The british government claimed that Americans had to obey laws enacted by the british Parliament, in which Americans had no representation. Americans did participate on colonial juries, and these juries became a way for Americans to govern themselves. As tensions with Britain rose, juries nullified ( refused to follow ) hated british laws, particularly laws for collecting taxes. Because colonial juries had been valuable in the contend against Britain, Americans put rights to civil and criminal jury test into their new state of matter constitutions immediately after declaring independence in 1776 .
By the time the federal Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787, opinions about the civil jury were more mix. Because state of matter civil juries had been sympathetic to debtors, Federalists in particular fear nullification of the laws of contract. For this and other reasons, the federal Constitution that was presented to the states for ratification did not include a right to civil jury trial.

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In the state sign conventions for the federal Constitution, Anti-Federalists strongly protested the lack of a right to civil jury trial. They expressed concerns about debtors, and besides argued that juries could protect litigants from bad laws passed by the legislature, authoritarian actions by the executive, and corrupt or biased judges. Fearing that a second built-in convention might be called if a right to civil jury trial were not included in a union Bill of Rights, James Madison drafted what became the Seventh Amendment .
The Seventh Amendment has two clauses. The first, known as the Preservation Clause, provides : “ In Suits at common law, where the respect in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved. ” This clause sets out the types of cases juries are required to decide. The second article, known as the Re-examination Clause, declares : “ no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examine in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. ” This article prevents federal judges from overturning jury verdicts in certain ways .
The condition “ coarse police, ” used doubly in the Amendment, can be confusing. today, the term “ common law ” frequently means law declared by judges, as opposed to law enacted by legislatures. In the Seventh Amendment, the term “ common jurisprudence ” means the jurisprudence and procedure of the courts that used juries, as opposed to Equity and other courts that did not use juries.

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In interpreting the Seventh Amendment, judges soon encountered a problem. To which “ common law ” courts was the Amendment referring ? The states had unlike civil jury practices, and the union courts were new. The United States Supreme Court announced a solution. The condition “ common law ” in the Seventh Amendment meant the common law of England. Parsons v. Bedford ( 1830 ). A hundred belated, the Supreme Court formally declared that the Amendment was to be interpreted according to the common law of England at the prison term the Amendment was ratified, that is, in 1791. Dimick v. Schiedt ( 1935 ) .
This interpretation is known as the historic trial. broadly, the types of cases that juries decide and the ways that judges can review their verdicts are supposed to resemble the practice in English park law courts in 1791. The Supreme Court has stated that the Amendment preserves the “ substance ” of the correct, not “ mere matters of imprint or operation. ” Baltimore & Carolina Line, Inc. v. Redman ( 1935 ). Departures from the English practice in 1791 have been permitted, including using six jurors alternatively of twelve. Colgrove v. Battin ( 1973 ) .
Our individual statements will examine the questions of why civil jury trial has become then rare and what should be done about it .

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