Texas Jury Trials On Endangered List?

While many people might think that if he is injured, his case will be heard by a judge and decided by a jury, nothing could be further from the truth.

An article in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News detailing the “fast fade” of Texas civil juries listed these statistics from last year:

* There were less than 1,200 civil jury trials heard by in our district courts in Texas, a whopping 64 percent decline from 1997.

* In Tarrant County there were only 103 verdicts reached in our 10 civil district courts.

* In Texas all of the federal judges only heard 135 civil trials compared to 360 in 1997.

So what’s behind the rapid decline in jury trials?

Various reasons are responsible: the assault on individual’s rights called “tort reform,” pretrial settlement attempts including mandatory mediations and arbitrations, the expense and delay of litigation, and a distrust of juries.

But I believe that one of the biggest reasons is our appellate court justices who consistently rule in favor of insurance companies and giant corporations over people.

As a result, Texas juries rendered 12 percent fewer personal injury and medical malpractice verdicts and 50 percent fewer product liability cases in 2012 than just the year before. And there were 88 percent fewer product liability verdicts (cases involving faulty medical devices, dangerous prescription drugs, defective vehicles and tires) in Texas than in 1996.

I have tried many cases to a verdict and am about to file suit because a man was nearly killed by an 18 wheeler.

Trying a case in front of a jury is one of the most important compelling and important decisions an attorney can make for his client. While I sometimes attempt to reach a favorable settlement for my client out of court, I never shy away from the chance to let a jury of my client’s peers decide liability and award damages.

The Seventh Amendment guaranteeing the right to a trial by one’s peers is under attack. It is a core American value at the heart of our democracy. Thomas Jefferson told Thomas Paine that he considered it to be ” the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution,” and Alexander Hamilton wrote that “the civil jury is a valuable safeguard to liberty.”

I am attending the annual convention of American Association for Justice next month in San Francisco, an organization I have belonged to my entire legal career (and where I met my wife). As a sign of the times, the group changed its name several years ago from The American Trial Lawyer Association. It is essential that trial by jury not become a relic.

Please contact my office if you have any questions about an automobile or truck collision that you may have been involved in. I’ll fight to get you the recovery you deserve.

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