J. Chad Parker, PLLC

J. Chad Parker, PLLC


The 7th Amendment

In the Constitution, there is the Bill of Rights. Everyone is familiar with the 1st Amendment involving the right to free speech. There is a 2nd Amendment involving the right to bear arms. Many are not as familiar with the right for trial BY JURY in a civil matter contained in the 7th Amendment. One would think that the framers of the Constitution thought long and hard about what was important to ensure a free society. The right to trial BY JURY allowed its citizens to have their neighbors hear the evidence in a case and decide whether or not a wrong had occurred and whether compensation was justified.

Your right to trail by jury

Your Right To a Trial by Jury

Today, powerful corporations seek to do an end-run around the Seventh Amendment by requiring people to sign arbitration agreements. Arbitration agreements dictate that there will be no right to trial by jury and a single arbitrator will hear the evidence and decide the outcome. Powerful corporations also lobby the Texas Legislature to enact laws to make it more difficult to get to trial. The Supreme Court in Texas has made it more difficult to present evidence and therefore more difficult to get to trial. My point in writing this article is to outline that it is harder to have your case heard by a jury than it was thirty years ago. That is a trend that seems to be continuing. Where does it all end?

The Foundation of the US Constitution

The framers of the U.S. Constitution drew inspiration from various sources, including the Bible and the Magna Carta. The experience in Europe greatly informed the authors and those who ratified the Constitution. They had the benefit of history and the things that had gone wrong in the past. Their wisdom has stood the test of time since the beginning of this country. Democracy is not the most efficient form of government, nor was it intended to be.

Individual rights and freedoms come at a cost. People may not think it’s important for the courts to be “open,” until they have a problem that needs to be addressed. For many in the future, they may realize that right does not exist or has been greatly curtailed. The only way to change that trend is for people to strongly support the right to trial BY JURY with the same passion for free speech and the right to bear arms. Criticism of the participants in the legal system is often the way this right is undermined.

The Role of Trial by Jury in Encouraging Accountability

Yes, there are people who attempt to take advantage of the system. Is that really a valid argument against our protection and a basis to limit or end the right to trial BY JURY?  Don’t we want a system that financially motivates people and companies to be safer, be more responsible, and attempt to follow the law? Does that not incentivize companies and people to do things that are less likely to cause injuries to others? 

Insurance premiums are “supposedly” based on risk. That risk is calculated by looking at activities involved in past track records and the potential level of harm. Do we really want a society in which companies and people are less concerned with the consequences of their actions? It would seem that we would all want a system that would do the most to ensure people are not injured or killed by a company or person failing to follow laws on the books or smile common sense.

The Role of Your Personal Injury Attorney

As a personal injury attorney, people may say that my comments are self-serving because I benefit from the system. Personal injury attorneys serve as motivation for others to act appropriately. The threat of a civil lawsuit with a jury trial has regulated behavior in the past, causing safer company practices, safer products, and more diligent attention to the laws. Checks and Balances are what America is all about. The right to trial BY JURY. Who better to hear your case than a jury of your peers (neighbors)?

I have practiced law for twenty-five years. I’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of cases going to trial for a variety of reasons. It has been said, “If you don’t use something then it could be lost.” The United States is one of the few countries with the right to trial BY JURY. I am concerned about the growing sentiment that it is not important or necessary for the administration of justice.

The Role of Your Insurance Company

I understand that no person or company wants to be sued. The insurance industry exists in the marketplace for just such protection. Insurance companies work hard to limit the payment of claims to injured individuals through a variety of techniques. Those include lobbying at the legislature as well as advertising meant to “define” what is reasonable and unreasonable. I understand their efforts in relation to their own economics. That is why it is more important than ever for the people of this state to recognize the value of the right to trial BY JURY outlined in the seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Support The Right to Trial By Jury

Various amendments to the Constitution are being politicized, leading people to vote against their own interests. There should be strong consideration about where this right comes from, how it has changed, and where it may be going
in the future. Support the right to trial BY JURY, serve on a jury, and be a part of its protection!