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Federal judges say no to 12-member civil juries.

The Judicial Conference of the United States has rejected a proposal to amend the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to require a return to 12-member juries in civil cases. The proposal, endorsed by several business groups and generally opposed by the plaintiff bar, would have ended a two-decade trend toward smaller civil panels.

Opposition by federal district judges, who had expressed their opinions during a preliminary round of commentary, was crucial to the final decision, according to a spokesperson for the Judicial Conference. (Federal Judges Consider Return to Mandatory 12-Member Juries, TRIAL, Sept. 1996, at 16.) The informal preliminary comment among district judges, many of whom have been using smaller panels since the late 1970s, was 39 opposed versus 1 supporter. Some commenters represented groups of judges.

The judges generally felt that the change would be expensive to implement because of ongoing construction plans that anticipate eight-member and six-member civil panels, and they felt that the current system is working well.
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Publication:Trial
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 1, 1996
Words:161
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