SMU Law Review


This article provides a brief historical explanation of the role that juries have played in Anglo-American civil trial practice. In doing so, the article documents the rise and fall of jury trial practice as a mechanism for resolving civil disputes in both England and America. The article explains how the modern rules of procedure and procedural statutes promote resolving disputes through pretrial litigation procedures at the expense of resolving disputes by jury trial.

The article begins with a description of the use of juries in England at the end of the twelfth century and continues until the near disappearance of juries in civil cases in England in the second half of the twentieth century. The article continues with the adoption and interpretation of the Seventh Amendment in America by the First Congress and a description of developments in American states, and it ends with the transformation of civil trial practice into modern litigation. The Author makes a prediction that the American trial practice will continue to follow England’s lead, moving further away from resolving civil disputes by jury trials.