Thursday, July 28, 2011

The right to a trial by jury is (usually) precious and inviolate

Got summoned to jury service yesterday. Because no one wants a lawyer on their jury, I was unceremoniously dismissed during jury selection.

Along the way the good folks at Sonoma County Superior Court told all the prospective jurors what a valuable service they were providing. They stressed, for example, that the denial of a right to a jury trial was one of the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence as a reason to separate from Britain. And they told us Thomas Jefferson stressed how important a right to a jury was:

"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution"

Compare and contrast:

Additionally, all eleven Circuit Courts that have reviewed the issue of whether there is a right to a jury trial under § 502(a) of ERISA have concluded that there is no such right. See Hampers v. W.R. Grace & Co., Inc., 202 F.3d 44, 54 (1st Cir.2000); Sullivan v. LTV Aerospace and Defense Co., 82 F.3d 1251, 1258 (2nd Cir.1996); Pane v. RCA Corp., 868 F.2d 631, 636 (3rd Cir.1989); Berry v. CIBA–GEIGY Corp., 761 F.2d 1003, 1007 (4th Cir.1985); Borst v. Chevron Corp., 36 F.3d 1308, 1323–24 (5th Cir.1994); Bittinger v. Tecumseh Prod. Co., 123 F.3d 877, 883 (6th Cir.1997); Wardle v. Central States, S.E. and S. W. Areas Pension Fund, 627 F.2d 820, 829 (7th Cir.1980); In re Vorpahl, 695 F.2d 318, 322 (8th Cir.1982); Thomas v. Oregon Fruit Prod. Co., 228 F.3d 991, 996 (9th Cir.2000); Adams v. Cyprus AMAX Minerals Co., 149 F.3d 1156, 1161–62 (10th Cir.1998); Blake v. UnionMutual Stock Life Ins. Co. of Am., 906 F.2d 1525, 1526 (11th Cir.1990).

Zuckerman v. United of Omaha Life Ins. Co., 09-CV-4819, 2011 WL 2173629 (N.D. Ill. May 31, 2011)

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