California Superior Courts Now Offer Expedited Jury Trial Options

The Expedited Jury Trials Act (ETA) Assembly Bill 2284 became effective in California state trial courts.  Additional rules implementing the program are being prepared by the California Judicial Council.  AB 2284 provides for expedited jury trials in civil cases where both parties agree.   The trials scheduled pursuant to the ETA will be heard on a date certain.  Only eight jurors are required.  Both parties will only have three peremptory challenges each against those jurors.  Each party will have three hours to present their testimony and arguments.  The goal of the program is to conclude a civil trial as close to one day as possible.

The rationale behind the bill is to address the ever increasing delays in getting a civil case to trial.  Limiting the length of trial testimony and argument should make the trial less costly.  Further, shortening the trial to roughly one day will be less burdensome on jurors time away from work.  However, the bill provides that the parties waive all rights to appeal  except as provided for in the ETA.

In the right situation, where the parties cannot agree to resolve a disputed matter, certain simplified cases should be considered for ETA.  Of course the other party must agree to participate to trigger the ETA program. 

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