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Right to a Jury Trial in Civil Suits

Article 15 (1780)

In all controversies concerning property, and in all suits between two or more persons, except in cases in which it has heretofore been otherways used and practiced, the parties have a right to a trial by jury; and this method of procedure shall be held sacred, unless, in causes arising on the high seas, and such as relate to mariners’ wages, the legislature shall hereafter find it necessary to alter it.

Precedents, Following Law, and Quotations

Nathaniel Ward, Body of Liberties ,  (1641):

Article 29. In all Actions at law it shall be the libertie of the plantife and defendant by mutual consent to choose whether they will be tried by the Bench or by a Jurie, unless it be where the law upon just reason hath otherwise determined. The like libertie shall be granted to all persons in Criminall cases.””

 

Seventh  Amendment, United States Constitution, became law Dec. 15, 1791 when ratified by Virginia, the 10th state to approve the 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, now known as the Bill of Rights:

“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.”

 

Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samual Du Pont de Nemours, 24 April 1816,” Founders Online”, National Archives:

“[W]e think experience has proved it safer, for the mass of individuals composing the society, to reserve to themselves personally the exercise of all rightful powers to which they are competent, and to delegate those to which they are not competent to deputies named, and removable for unfaithful conduct, by themselves immediately. hence, with us, the people (by which is meant the mass of individuals composing the society) being competent to judge of the facts occurring in ordinary life, they have retained the functions of judges of facts, under the name of jurors.”

juryballots

Inscribed jurors’ ballots, fourth century B.C.

Athenian Agora Excavations, The American School of Classical Studies at Athens

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