The right to a jury trial in California is the topic of this blog post.
This post will discuss the right to a jury trial in civil cases in California.
The right to a jury trial in California is authorized by Article I, section 16 of the California Constitution which states in pertinent part that, “Trial by jury is an inviolate right and shall be secured to all.” This blog post will discuss the right to a jury trial in California civil cases.
Code of Civil Procedure section 631(a) states that, “The right to a trial by jury as declared by Section 16 of Article I of the California Constitution shall be preserved to the parties inviolate. In civil cases, a jury may only be waived pursuant to subdivision (f).”
It should be noted that that the right to a jury trial in California only applies in legal, not equitable, actions. See Benach v. County of Los Angeles (2007) 149 Cal. App. 4th 836, 845-846. As a result all actions in equity are non-jury trials, and are subject to the procedures that are associated with a non-jury trial although the trial judge does retain the power to order that any issue be tried by a jury pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 592. Note that a judge sitting in equity must ultimately decide the equitable issues, treating any jury verdict on those issues as only advisory. See Posey v. Leavitt (1991) 229 Cal.App 3d 1236, 1244.
As stated above the right to a jury trial can only be waived pursuant to provisions contained in subdivision (f) which states that,
“A party waives trial by jury in any of the following ways:
(1) By failing to appear at the trial.
(2) By written consent filed with the clerk or judge.
(3) By oral consent, in open court, entered in the minutes.
(4) By failing to announce that a jury is required, at the time the cause is first set for trial, if it is set upon notice or stipulation, or within five days after notice of setting if it is set without notice or stipulation.
(5) By failing to timely pay the fee described in subdivision (b), unless another party on the same side of the case has paid that fee.
(6) By failing to deposit with the clerk or judge, at the beginning of the second and each succeeding day’s session, the sum provided in subdivision (e).”
Parties in California that wish a jury trial must comply with Code of Civil Procedure section 631(c), states that “[t]he advance jury fee deposit shall be made on or before the date scheduled for the initial case management conference in the action.” They must also deposit the jury fee with the clerk or judge at the beginning of the second and each succeeding day of trial. This rule does not apply to unlawful detainer actions which require the deposit of jury fees at least five days before the date set for trial pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure § 631(c)(1).
If these fees are not paid the jury trial right has been waived and this results in a non-jury trial. See Code of Civil Procedure § 631(f)(5), (6). Although the court has the discretion to allow a trial by jury even though there may have been a waiver pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure § 631(g). I discuss relief from a waiver of a jury trial in California in another blog post.
Any party who wants to retain the right to a jury trial should file a timely demand for a jury trial as well as timely depositing the advance jury fees with the clerk of the court. Although some parties include the demand for a jury trial in their pleading the author has found that certain court clerks will request that the demand for a jury trial be made in a separate document.
Attorneys or parties in California who would like to view a free sample demand for jury trial available for download in Word or PDF format created by the author can see below.
The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.
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Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.
The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.