New Expedited Jury Trials Act Affords Litigants Option of Streamlined, One-Day Jury Trial

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California's Expedited Jury Trials Act, Code of Civil Procedure §§630.1-.12, offers litigants the new option of a streamlined one-day jury trial to expedite litigation and reduce costs.

The act, which took effect January 1, 2011, applies to all manner of civil cases, requiring only the parties' consent. A key feature is that the parties must agree to a "high/low agreement," under which (notwithstanding the jury's verdict) the plaintiff is assured a minimum recovery and the defendant's liability is limited to a maximum amount. Code Civ. Proc. §630.03(d).

Trial is limited to one day, with each side allowed three hours to present its case. Code Civ. Proc. §630.03 (e)(2)(B). The jury is limited to no more than eight members, with a vote of six of eight jurors sufficient for a verdict. Code of Civ. Proc. §§ 630.03(e)(2)(C) and 630.07 (b). Jury selection is limited to "approximately one hour," with each side allowed three peremptory challenges. Code Civ. Proc. §630.03(e)(2)(D) and Cal. R. Ct. 3.1549.

Parties must waive the right to move for a directed verdict and to file post-trial motions and appeals, except on limited grounds. Code Civ. Proc. §630.03 (e)(2)(A). The only grounds on which an appeal or post-trial motion may be filed are judicial or jury misconduct and "corruption, fraud or other undue means employed in the proceedings of the court, jury or adverse party that prevented a party from having a fair trial." Code Civ. Proc. § 630.09 (a).

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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