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Joseph H. Saunders
Joseph H. Saunders
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The Right to Jury Trial in the Declaration of Independance


thVFJJZFAWThe purpose of so called “tort reform” is to restrict citizen’s rights to jury trial in America. The tort reformers’ argument is that we can’t trust juries to decide issues of civil justice. Tort reformers call for state legislatures and for U.S. Congress to put caps on money compensation that juries can award and to legislate immunities for corporations and for doctors in medical malpractice lawsuits.

The rationale for tort reform is that juries can’t be trusted to decide civil justice and that elected politicians are the ones we should trust to measure the civil justice due our citizens who have been wronged, injured, or killed. These are the same politicians who are elected with unlimited financial contributions from corporations who will save money if they are protected from civil justice claims by individual citizens.

This 4th of July weekend is a good time to remind ourselves that the Declaration of Independence states that one of the reasons for declaring independence from the King of England was “For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury”.

Further, the 7th Amendment to the Unites States Constitution provides: 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 re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

The right to jury trial for civil justice has always been a foundational principle of the United States of America. The 4th of July is a good time for us to remember that “tort reform” is an effort to undermine one of our country’s founding principles.



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  1. mike bryant says:
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    Strict constitutionalists that don’t seem to ever read the whole document. 7th is so clear compared to the way they read other parts. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Susan says:
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    i have read that it can take years–sometimes a decade to get a malpractice case through the courts. This delay is a real problem for both victims of malpractice as well as innocent doctors who are dragged through a frivolous malpractice suit. Isn’t justice delayed justice denied? What suggestions would you make to speed up the litigation process?