A grand jury is a group of common citizens, typically chosen from the same pool as trial jurors. Members of a grand jury are sworn by a court to hear a case. A grand jury is always composed of no less than 12 and no more than 23 people; in a federal court, the number is no less than 16 and no more than 23.
The Seventh Amendment is a crucial component of the United States Constitution that guarantees the right to a trial by jury in civil cases. It is one of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights, which are meant to protect individual liberties and limit government power. This amendment is a testament to the importance of the jury system and the role it plays in our modern-day legal system.The Seventh Amendment states that “In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.” The amendment clearly outlines the circumstances in which a trial by jury is required, namely in civil cases, and sets the threshold amount at twenty dollars. This means that any civil case involving more than twenty dollars at stake must be heard by a jury, unless the parties agree to waive this right.
The amendment also states that a jury’s verdict cannot be overturned by another court. This principle, known as “jury finality,” ensures that the decision of the jury is respected and valued as the ultimate verdict. This is meant to prevent the possibility of a court system that is biased or corrupt and maintains the integrity of the justice system.
The Seventh Amendment is a cornerstone of American democracy, as it represents a commitment to individual rights and decentralized authority. The Founding Fathers recognized the importance of having juries of ordinary citizens responsible for making legal decisions. They believed that the jury represented the best way to ensure that justice would be served and that the rights of the accused would be protected.
The Seventh Amendment impacts various aspects of civil litigation. For example, in personal injury cases, a jury is often selected to determine the amount of damages owed to the plaintiff. In contract cases, the jury decides whether there has been a breach of contract and if so, what damages the non-breaching party is entitled to receive. In property disputes, a jury may decide the rightful owner of a disputed piece of land.
The Seventh Amendment also has implications for the legal profession. Attorneys who specialize in civil litigation must know how to communicate with juries and present evidence in a compelling way. They must be able to anticipate how a jury will react to certain arguments or evidence and adjust their strategy accordingly. Additionally, attorneys must be skilled at selecting and communicating with expert witnesses who can reinforce their client’s position.
Since its incorporation into the Constitution, the Seventh Amendment has been interpreted and applied in various ways. For instance, the landmark case of McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) involved the interpretation of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. The plaintiffs in this case argued that the right to bear arms applied to all levels of government, including state and local governments. The Seventh Amendment was invoked in this case as the right to a jury trial is a part of the Bill of Rights.
In conclusion, the Seventh Amendment is a vital component of the American legal system and guarantees the right to a trial by jury in civil cases. It ensures that individual liberties are protected and that the decision-making power is shared between the people and the government. The importance of a trial by jury cannot be overstated as it represents the foundation of U.S legal system. The Seventh Amendment will continue to play a crucial role in the American justice system for years to come.
How does a Grand Jury Differ from a Trial Jury?
Unlike a trial jury—which operates under the unanimous system–a grand jury can indict a defendant with a majority vote. Moreover, trial juries will decide whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crime in question, whereas, a grand jury will listen to evidence and decide if a suspect should be charged with a crime. As a result, the grand jury is responsible for determining probable cause, and not “innocence” or “guilt.”
Because the grand jury’s primary responsibility is to determine probable cause, the body will not hear all the evidence or conflicting arguments associated with the case. The information provided to the grand jury is delivered by the prosecutor; this individual must present conflicting evidence for the grand jury to accurately determine probable cause. The suspect’s lawyers (the defense team) are not allowed to be present during this evaluation process. The defense team cannot present evidence, but may consult with witnesses outside the courtroom.
A grand jury will use the power of the court system to command (through the issuance of a subpoena) the delivery of evidence. Furthermore, the grand jury may invite witnesses to provide testimonies to the body.
The prosecutor is responsible for running the proceedings; there is no judge present during this exchange of evidence and information.