Jury Demand: Should You or Shouldn’t You

Since this question keeps popping up I figured I would take a shot at it.

The theory is that by asking for a jury verdict you are taking the matter out of the hands of a politicized judge and putting it in the hands of what is likely to be a very angry jury pool itching to whack the Wall Street players. I think that’s right, theoretically.

My problem with the theory is that in practice I don’t see much mileage in it. These cases don’t seem to EVER get to trial which is the only place a jury will hear anything. In the meantime you still have the the same politicized judge making all the preliminary rulings about whether your case will survive, much less get to trial.

The other problem I have with the Jury Demand is that you only have a right to trial by jury on money damages, not equitable relief, like an injunction or some mandate against the players. So the jury demand won’t have much effect on the main issue: whether the foreclosure is right or wrong and whether the money is owed and if so to whom, and whether the party seeking to foreclose has any right to do so.

And the last problem I have with it is the issue of bifurcation. If you ask for a jury trial the Judge might split the case into two cases — first the case involving the legality of the foreclosure and second, the damage case that will go to the jury. This creates the appearance that the Judge is “protecting” your right to be heard on your claims while “protecting” a secured creditor (who is neither a creditor nor secured) from further losses on a “legitimate” obligation.

So obviously I think that a jury demand takes the focus off whether the party you are fighting is a creditor, has standing or is just trying to steal the property. But I could be wrong. This isn’t a legal opinion, it is just a knee-jerk reaction.

%d bloggers like this: