What is a Summary Jury Trial?

Summary Jury Trials

No one ever plans on getting into a car wreck, and a serious collision can have a negative lasting effect on a person or family. When a Plaintiff is injured, often times the costly and timely process of litigation can be avoided or seriously reduced with the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) tactics.

ADR advocates are part of a movement amongst lawyers that attempts to cut down on the cost, time, and stress associated with the litigation process. Often times, litigation can take years and thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars to complete.

Summary Jury Trials are defined by the statutes in Texas: “A summary jury trial is a forum for early case evaluation and development of realistic settlement negotiations.”

(a) Each party and counsel for the party present the position of the party before a panel of jurors.
(b) The number of jurors on the panel is six unless the parties agree otherwise.
(c) The panel may issue an advisory opinion regarding the liability or damages of the parties or both.
(d) The advisory opinion is not binding on the parties.

The summary jury trial is directed by the court in the usual manner of a jury trial, except that questioning jurors and presentation of evidence are significantly limited. The rules of evidence are relaxed and the jury decision is recommended, not binding in nature. The process gives the parties an opportunity to experience an official court hearing and to see how a jury of their peers would view the case.

A summary jury trial is usually finished in a day or less. It is useful when a full trial on the merits will require considerable time. This ADR proceeding is often times used in cases involving a factual dispute about damages. The jurors are selected from the regular jury panel and are not informed of the advisory nature of their opinion until after the verdict is rendered. At that time, the parties and their attorneys have the opportunity to discuss the verdict with the jurors.

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