The Jury Trial
Did you know that there is a Constitutional right to a jury trial in civil cases? That means that rather than a Judge or some other elected bureaucrat deciding a case, people in the community are chosen to hear the evidence and resolve disputes. Ohio’s Constitution states that the “right of trial by jury shall be inviolate…”
I was recently able to help a member of the community exercise her right to a jury trial. My client, Kim, broke her kneecap when she fell at a local grocery store. We investigated what caused her fall, and whether the grocery store was responsible for the injury. We discovered that Kim had slipped on a puddle of water; an ice company had delivered ice an hour earlier, the company spilled ice on the floor, and the company and the store failed to carefully and completely clean up the ice.
The store and the company denied they did anything wrong—instead contending that a slippery floor sign at the store absolved them of all liability. The store and company asked the Judge to dismiss the case. The Judge denied their request, instead reserving the decision for the jury—as the Constitution requires.
After hearing the evidence, the jury found that the store and the company failed to keep the store reasonably safe, and that the failure caused Kim’s injury—her broken kneecap. It took over three years, but because of the right to a jury trial, Kim finally received justice.
Every case is different. The unique facts of each situation make predicting a fair outcome difficult—and sometimes impossible.
But one thing is constant: the right to a trial by jury. Members of the community are brought together to hear the evidence and resolve disputes. Those members of the community usually have diverse backgrounds, and they bring their experiences, beliefs, and common sense to the court room, where justice finally happens.
I’m honored to be part of a system the protects the Constitutional right to a jury trial. I’m so thankful for our American system of civil justice, for the members of the community that step up and fulfill their duties as jurors, and I’m so grateful for the jury that provided Kim justice.