If you are considering a personal injury lawsuit, you are probably concerned with the time commitment associated with civil action. You likely have heard of civil trials lasting weeks, months or years. Luckily, Los Angeles county has decided to implement a new system to try and limit the time spent on one trial to just one day. Concerned with judicial economy and efficiency, the new system promises to significantly reduce the “hurry up and wait” mentality that is so commonly thought of in reference to civil trials.
The new one-day trials will be heavily scheduled and organized. Parties will have exactly one hour for jury selection, three hours per party for arguments, and verdicts are to be returned the same day by the eight-member (or fewer) jury.
This new type of trial will not be forced upon parties, as Californians enjoy civil and constitutional rights regarding trials. However, if both parties stipulate and agree to the above scenario, the one-day scheduled trial will be an option for them. The parties will have the freedom to agree to certain aspects of the trial ahead of time, thus avoiding typical time-consuming aspects of a trial such as haggling over a damages amount. Parties are free to agree upon a high/low award amount. As well, parties can agree to waive their rights to appeal, thus eliminating the need for a court reporter as all verdicts will be final.
Benefits to this system abound and affect nearly every party involved. For instance, those selected against their will to serve jury duty will only face a one-day commitment as opposed to missing an entire week of work. Parties to the suit will also benefit from the one-day scheme as it will help with their personal scheduling concerns and eliminate the need for exorbitant expert witnesses and costly court reporters.
Jurors interviewed after sitting in on a one-day expedited trial proclaimed that the new system takes the eye-rolling out of jury service, adding that jurors appeared more relaxed and focused upon the facts of the case.
Personal injury lawyers within Los Angeles County have exclaimed the new one-day option is a great way to resolve a civil conflict and is a win-win for everyone. Lawyers believe this is a great way to allocate judicial resources amongst all parties in need and is much more fair to jurors. The expedited trial option passed the California legislature last year with a unanimous vote, a rarity for any piece of legislation.
Under typical circumstances, a civil trial lasts around one week and parties are never completely sure which day they will call their witnesses and experts. Thus, many parties are forced to pay for all witnesses for the duration of the trial until they are called which can result in expensive room and board bills for the parties.
The expedited trial may or may not catch on in Los Angeles County, it is too soon to tell. However, it is certainly a viable option to look in to, as it offers parties the alternative to save extreme amounts of money while still resolving conflict within a civil court and at the hands of a county judge.