Here's a little known bit of American history trivia: The American colonists fought the Revolutionary War in significant part over England's repeated attempts to restrict jury trials. Not only that, the U.S. Constitution was nearly defeated over its failure to guarantee the right to civil jury trial. (The Seventh Amendment eventually resolved the problem.) The right to jury trial has been secured not only by the U.S. Constitution, but by every state as well.
Unfortunately today, the civil jury is an embattled and vulnerable institution in the United States. Beginning in the 1980s and ever since, we have seen a non-stop barrage of legislative and, in some cases, judicial attempts to significantly weaken the civil justice system with laws that corporate America calls "tort reform." And now, the question as to whether this constitutionally protected institution deserves to function at all has been reduced to budgetary and fiscal squabbling.
North Dakota in 1989, and Vermont in 1990, each reacted to state budget squeezes by suspending civil jury trials (although North Dakota's 18 month moratorium was later declared unconstitutional by the North Dakota Supreme Court). Between November 1991 and February 1992, civil jury trials in New York came to a halt when budget cuts left the state judiciary without staff to handle them.
And today, there's California.Keep reading.