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“The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”

-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Illinois’ 6 Person Jury Unconstitutional

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Approximately one year after a public law went into effect limiting the size of a civil jury to 6 persons, the Illinois Supreme Court has deemed the act unconstitutional.

On September 22, 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court held the 1970 Constitution protects the right of trial by jury “as heretofore enjoyed”, which means the right as it was enjoyed at the time the constitution was drafted.  While the Court recognized there is some flexibility within this definition, the Court determined it is clear the drafters intended for the essential common-law features of a jury trial as then enjoyed to be preserved and protected. The Supreme Court has long included the 12-person size of a jury within its essential description of the essential features of a jury trial.

Accordingly, Illinois litigants will once again have the right to demand a 12-person civil jury.

See Kakos v. Butler, Docket No. 120377 (September 22,2 016)

McKenna Sorer has been providing comprehensive legal services for over 60 years. Contact Kristin Tauras at McKenna Storer about this topic and other litigation matters.

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