Thursday, October 9, 2014

Want a jury? Don't just check off the box!

You may want to avoid jury duty, but if you are a plaintiff or defendant in a civil lawsuit, you may want a jury. It is a powerful thing to have six members of your community make decisions about your legal rights, and whether large amounts of money must be passed between you and the other side.

This week, Maryland's Court of Special Appeals had to issue an opinion on something that should be quite simple-- how to properly demand a jury trial in civil cases.

In Lisy Corporation v. McCormick, issued October 7, 2014, the court wrote that merely checking off the "jury trial" box on the civil information cover sheet (a pre-printed form that must accompany every newly filed complaint) is not enough.  Without a clear statement in the body of the complaint, such as "the Plaintiff demands a jury," the check in the pre-printed box will not preserve your right to a jury trial.

It's a simple, simple detail of drafting and filing complaints. But even the best of us can use the reminder.