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Flashcards in Jury Trials Deck (43)
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When does a party have a right to a jury trial?

Parties have the right to a jury trial in all civil actions under Rule 38 & 7th Amendment.

⚠️ Note: Right only exists for claims under law, not equity.


If both legal and equitable relief is sought, does the right to a jury exist?

Yes, the right to the jury exists but only for the non-equitable claims (claims for damages).


How can a party demand a jury trial?

  1. File a written demand within 14 days after the last pleading; and
  2. Properly serve to the other parties

FRCP 38(b)


Does a party need to re-demand a jury trial if the case is removed to federal court?

No, as long as the jury trial was properly demanded initially. FRCP 81(c)(3).


Does failure to properly serve and file the demand for a jury trial constitute a waiver of the right?

Yes, a party waives a jury trial unless its demand is properly served and filed.

FRCP 38(d)


How many jurors are required to form a jury?

6-12 members. Each juror must participate in the verdict unless excused under Rule 47(c).

FRCP 48(a)


Do jury verdicts need to be unanimous?

Yes, must be unanimous and returned by a jury of at least 6 members, unless stipulated otherwise.

FRCP 48(b)


voir dire

Process by which jurors are selected.


During voir dire, what are challenges for cause and how many does each side have?

Used to dismiss a potential juror due to bias; unlimited number per side.


What are peremptory challenges?

Allows a party to dismiss a juror for any reason, as long as the reason is race and gender neutral.

FRCP 47(b)



How many peremptory challenges does each party get?


If a peremptory strike gives rise to an inference of racial or gender discrimination, what is the moving party required to do?

Provide a non-discriminatory explanation for the strike or withdraw the strike


What is the deadline for a party to propose jury instructions?

Generally, before the close of all evidence presented to the jury. 

However, a party can file after close of evidence if either:

  1. Instructions are for issues not reasonably anticipated, or
  2. Court has given permission to untimely file (can propose for any issue) 



Can a party object to proposed jury instructions?

Yes, parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to object on the record outside jury's presence before instructions are given. Party must timely state the matter objected to and the grounds for the objection.

FRCP 51(c)(1)



When is an objection to a jury instruction considered timely?

An objection is timely if:

  1. A party objects at the opportunity provided under Rule 51(b)(2); or
  2. A party was not informed of an instruction or action on a request before that opportunity to object, and the party objects promptly after learning that the instruction or request will be, or has been, given or refused.

FRCP 51(c)(2)


Does a party's failure to object to error in jury instructions waive arguments related to the error on appeal?



general verdict

Allows the jury to decides in favor of P or D without listing specific factual findings.



special verdict

When the jury makes a specific finding on each issue of fact without necessarily stating which party should win.

See more: Special Verdict



What is a general verdict with specific interrogatories and what is its purpose?

General verdict that includes specific findings of fact. Purpose is to ensure jury considered important factual issues of the case.

FRCP 49(b)


If the general verdict and answers to interrogatories are inconsistent, what actions can the judge take?

  1. Order a new trial;
  2. Order the jury to redeliberate; or
  3. Order an appropriate judgment according to the answers, notwithstanding the general verdict

FRCP 49(b)(3)



What does it mean to poll the jury?

Either via request or on its own, court can "poll" the jury to see if there is lack of unanimity or assent amongst the jurors.

FRCP 48(c)


After polling the jury, what actions can the judge take if there is a lack of unanimity or assent?

Order a new trial or ask jurors to deliberate further. FRCP 48(c)


What is the deadline for asking to poll the jury?

After a verdict is returned but before the jury is discharged. FRCP 48(c).


What are examples of juror misconduct? What happens if misconduct is found? 

  • Introducing or using evidence gained outside of trial
  • Improperly communicating with outside parties
  • Giving dishonest testimony during voir dire

If found, court may order a new trial.


judgment as a matter of law

(also called a "directed verdict" or JMOL)

Ruling entered by judge against a party if a party lacks sufficient evidence to prevail on an issue necessary to a particular claim or defense

FRCP 50(a)


What is the evidentiary standard for granting a JMOL?

Court must view evidence in the light most favorable to the opposing party and only grant JMOL if no reasonable person could find for the party.

FRCP 50(a)(1)



When can a party file for a judgment as a matter of law?

Both parties: before case is submitted to jury

D: Either after close of P's evidence or after close of all evidence

P: After close of all evidence



renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law (RJMOL)

(also called "judgment notwithstanding the verdict" or JNOV)

If a party loses on a JMOL, they can make a renewed motion for JMOL ("RJMOL") within 28 days after entry of judgment.

⚠️ Note: Party must have properly & timely filed a JMOL to seek an RJMOL.

FRCP 50(b)


In ruling on a RJMOL, the court may:

  1. Allow the verdict to stand;
  2. Order a new trial; or
  3. Direct entry of judgment as a matter of law (if reasonable people could not agree that the verdict was correct)

FRCP 50(b)



What is the deadline for all post-trial motions? (generally)

28 days.


What are examples of grounds for a new trial?

Grounds include:

  • Newly discovered evidence
  • Verdict was against weight of the evidence
  • Serious, prejudicial error
  • Serious, prejudicial misconduct
  • Excessive or inadequate verdict

FRCP 60(b)


What is the deadline for filing a motion for a new trial?

No later than 28 days after entry of the judgment (same as the general deadline for post-trial motions).

FRCP 59(b)


What are the requirements to move for new trial based on newly discovered evidence?

  1. Evidence could not be found before the verdict;
  2. Evidence is not solely for impeachment;
  3. Evidence will likely change outcome of case


When is a verdict against the great weight of the evidence?

Even after giving every deference to the prevailing party, the jury made the verdict in error in light of the evidence presented.



If the jury awarded inadequate damages, can the court increase the amount?


No, "enhancing" the verdict is called additur and is prohibited by the 7th Amendment.


What can the court do if the jury awards damages that are excessive?

If the damages are so high as to "shock the conscience," the judge can either:

  1. Order a new trial; or
  2. Order a decrease in the award ("remittitur")

⚠️ Note: Judges are never required to give option of remittitur.



When is a new trial for procedural error or misconduct proper? 

The error or misconduct likely changed the outcome of the case & substantially prejudiced the losing party.


What is the harmless error rule?

Court can dismiss errors that did not affect a party's rights (i.e. the same result would have occured even this error didn't happen).



When is a motion for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b) proper? 

  • There is mistake, inadvertence, surprise, excusable neglect;
  • Newly discovered evidence;
  • Misrepresentation, misconduct, or fraud
  • Judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged;
  • Judgment is void; or
  • Any other reason that justifies relief

FRCP 60(b)


What is the deadline for filing a motion for relief from judgment

Within one year of final judgment if for: 

  • Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, excusable neglect
  • Newly discovered evidence
  • Misrepresentation, misconduct, or fraud

Within a reasonable period of time if:

  • Judgment is satisfied, released, or discharged
  • Judgment is void
  • Any other reason that justifies relief

FRCP 60(c)


When is relief from judgment for fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct proper?

If a party:

  • Withholds key evidence during discovery;
  • Bribes a witness; or
  • Makes false statements to the court or other parties


Can the court, on its own initiative, order a new trial?

Yes, for any reason that would justify granting a new trial if a party brought the motion.

⚠️ Note: Court must specify the reasons why in its order.



Does the court always have the discretion to grant a new trial? 

Yes, always has discretion to avoid miscarriage of justice.