BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                  AB 2284|
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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  AB 2284
          Author:   Evans (D)
          Amended:  7/15/10 in Senate
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  4-0, 6/29/10
          AYES:  Corbett, Harman, Hancock, Leno
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Walters

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  74-0, 4/22/10 (Consent) - See last page  
            for vote


           SUBJECT  :    Jury trial:  rules of court

           SOURCE :     Consumer Attorneys of California
                      California Defense Counssel


           DIGEST  :    This bill establishes the Expedited Jury Trials  
          Act, and thereunder provides procedures for expedited civil  
          jury trials.  This bill also requires the Judicial Council  
          to adopt rules and forms, on or before January 1, 2011, to  
          establish uniform procedures implementing the provisions of  
          the expedited civil jury trial process.  The provisions of  
          this bill sunset on January 1, 2016.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law requires issues of fact regarding  
          the recovery of specific, real, or personal property, with  
          or without damages, or for money claimed as due upon  
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          contract, or as damages for breach of contract, or for  
          injuries, to be tried by a jury, unless a jury trial is  
          waived.  (Code Civ. Proc. Sec. 592.)

          Existing law allows cases in which the demand, exclusive of  
          interest, or the value of the property in controversy  
          amounts to $25,000 or less to be tried as a limited civil  
          case with informal trial requirements.  (Code Civ. Proc.  
          Sec. 86.)

          Existing law restricts limited civil cases to a hearing  
          before a judge, not a jury.  (Code Civ. Proc. Sec.  
          116.510.)

          Existing law regulates civil jury trial procedure.  (Code  
          Civ. Proc. Sec. 607 et seq.)

          Existing law requires a jury to consist of 12 people,  
          unless a lesser number is agreed upon by the parties in  
          open court.  (Cal. Const. Art. I, Sec. 16; Code Civ. Proc.  
          Sec. 220.)

          Existing law allows each party to a civil action a limit of  
          six peremptory challenges of the jury panel.  (Code Civ.  
          Proc. Sec. 231(c).)

          This bill, until January 1, 2016, establishes the Expedited  
          Jury Trials Act and defines "expedited jury trial" to mean  
          a consensual, binding jury trial before a reduced jury  
          panel and a judicial officer.

          This bill provides that the rules and procedures applicable  
          to expedited jury trials do not apply when the parties  
          agree otherwise as permitted under statute and the court so  
          orders.

          This bill requires all parties agreeing to take part in an  
          expedited jury trial and, if represented, their counsel to  
          sign a proposed consent order granting an expedited jury  
          trial. 

          This bill prescribes that an expedited jury trial agreement  
          is binding on all parties unless:  (1) all parties  
          stipulate to end the agreement to participate in the  

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          expedited jury trial; or (2) the court, on its own motion  
          or at the request of a party by noticed motion, finds that  
          good cause exists for the action not to proceed as an  
          expedited jury trial.

          This bill prescribes that any agreement to engage in an  
          expedited jury trial may be entered into only after a  
          dispute has arisen and a case has been filed.

          This bill requires, for an expedited jury trial involving a  
          minor, an incompetent person, or a person for whom a  
          conservator has been appointed, the court to approve the  
          use of an expedited jury trial and any high/low agreements  
          or other stipulations before the trial.

          This bill defines "high/low agreement" to mean a written  
          agreement voluntarily entered into by the parties that  
          specifies a minimum amount of damages that the plaintiff is  
          guaranteed to receive from the defendant, and a maximum  
          amount of damages that the defendant will be liable for,  
          regardless of the ultimate verdict issued by the jury;  
          neither the existence of, nor the amounts contained in any  
          high/low agreement, may be disclosed to the jury.

          This bill requires parties agreeing to an expedited jury  
          trial to submit a proposed consent order containing all of  
          the following:

          1. A preliminary statement that each named party and any  
             insurance carrier responsible for providing coverage or  
             defense on behalf of a party, individually identified in  
             the proposed consent order, has been informed of the  
             rules and procedures for an expedited jury trial and  
             provided with a Judicial Council information sheet  
             regarding expedited jury trials, has agreed to take part  
             in the expedited jury trial process, and has agreed to  
             all the specific provisions set forth in the consent  
             order.
           
           2. The parties' agreement to all of the following:
           
              A.    All parties waive all rights to appeal and to  
                move for directed verdict or make any post-trial  
                motions, except as provided by statute.

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             B.    Each side will have up to three hours in which  
                to present its case.

             C.    The jury is to be composed of eight or fewer  
                jurors with no alternates.

             D.    Each side will be limited to three peremptory  
                challenges, unless the court permits an additional  
                challenge in cases with more than two sides as  
                provided by statute.

             E.    The trial and pretrial matters will proceed, as  
                specified, unless the parties expressly agree  
                otherwise in the proposed consent order, under all  
                other provisions in this bill and in the  
                implementing rules of court.

          This bill requires the court to issue the consent order as  
          proposed by the parties, unless the court finds good cause  
          why the action should not proceed through the expedited  
          jury trial process, in which case the court may deny the  
          proposed consent order in its entirety.

          This bill prescribes that juries in expedited jury trial  
          cases will be composed of eight or fewer jurors, unless the  
          parties have agreed to fewer; no alternates will be  
          selected.

          This bill requires the court to allow each side three  
          peremptory jury challenges; if there are more than two  
          parties in a case and more than two sides, as determined by  
          the court under statute, the parties may request one  
          additional peremptory challenge each, which is to be  
          granted by the court as the interests of justice may  
          require.

          This bill prescribes that nothing would preclude a jury  
          from deliberating as long as needed.
           
           This bill prescribes that rules of evidence apply in  
          expedited jury trials, unless the parties stipulate  
          otherwise to relaxed rules.  Any stipulation by the parties  
          to use relaxed rules of evidence may not be construed to  

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          eliminate or in any way affect the right of a witness or  
          party to invoke any applicable privilege or other law  
          protecting confidentiality.

          This bill prescribes that the right to issue subpoenas and  
          notices to appear to secure the attendance of witnesses or  
          the production of documents at trial is as provided by  
          statute.

          This bill prescribes that the verdict, which must be  
          approved by six of the eight jurors unless the parties  
          agree otherwise, in an expedited jury trial case is  
          binding, subject to any written high/low agreement or other  
          stipulations concerning the amount of the award agreed upon  
          by the parties.

          This bill requires the parties to agree to waive any  
          motions for directed verdicts, motions to set aside the  
          verdict or any judgment rendered by the jury, or motions  
          for a new trial on the basis of inadequate or excessive  
          damages.

          This bill prescribes that the court may not set aside any  
          verdict or any judgment, may not direct that judgment be  
          entered in favor of a party entitled to judgment as a  
          matter of law, and may not order a new trial except on the  
          grounds provided under statute.

          This bill prescribes that, by agreeing to take part in the  
          expedited jury trial process, the parties agree to waive  
          the right to bring post-trial motions or to appeal from the  
          determination of the matter, except as otherwise provided.   
          The only grounds on which a party may move for a new trial  
          or appeal are any of the following:

          1. Judicial officer misconduct that materially affected the  
             substantial rights of a party.

          2. Misconduct of the jury.

          3. Corruption, fraud, or other undue means employed in the  
             proceedings of the court, jury, or adverse party in such  
             a way that either party was prevented from having a fair  
             expedited jury trial.

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           This bill authorizes a party to apply for a new trial on  
          any of the grounds, as specified, within 10 court days of  
          entry of a jury verdict.  If the motion for new trial is  
          denied, the party may appeal the judgment to the  
          appropriate court with appellate jurisdiction and seek a  
          new expedited jury trial on any of the grounds, as  
          specified. Parties to an expedited jury trial may not  
          appeal on any other ground.

          This bill restricts parties to an expedited jury trial from  
          making any post-trial motions except for motions to apply  
          for a new trial and motions relating to costs and  
          attorney's fees.  All statutes and rules governing costs  
          and attorney's fees apply in expedited jury trials, unless  
          the parties agree otherwise in the consent order.

          This bill requires the Judicial Council, on or before  
          January 1, 2011, to adopt rules and forms to establish  
          uniform procedures implementing the provisions for  
          expedited jury trials, including, but not limited to, rules  
          for all of the following:

          1. Additional content of proposed consent orders.

          2. Pretrial exchanges and submissions.

          3. Pretrial conferences.

          4. Time limits for jury selection.


          5. Time limits for trial, including presentation of  
             evidence and argument;=.

          6. Presentation of evidence and testimony.

          7. Any other procedures necessary to implement the  
             provisions of this chapter.

          The provisions of the bill sunset on January 1, 2016.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  No

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          SUPPORT  :   (Verified  8/3/10)

          Consumer Attorneys of California (co-source)
          California Defense Counsel (co-source)
          American Insurance Association
          Association of California Insurance Companies
          California Chamber of Commerce
          Civil Justice Association of California
          Consumers Union
          Judicial Council of California


           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The author's office writes, "the  
          rising costs of litigation presents an ongoing challenge in  
          providing access to justice for a number of litigants,  
          especially those with claims involving relatively small  
          amounts in dispute.  Traditional trials can be time  
          consuming and expensive for both litigants and the courts.   
          Moreover, for many litigants, alternative dispute  
          resolution has not proven successful in resolving their  
          cases prior to trial.

          "AB 2284 would establish the expedited jury trial in  
          California as a voluntary alternative, streamlined method  
          of handling civil actions that still allows parties to get  
          their day in court, provides cost savings to the parties,  
          reduces the backlog of civil cases, and more efficiently  
          manages jury resources.  The bill would also authorize the  
          Judicial Council, consistent with its rulemaking authority,  
          to adopt rules of court."
          
          Consumer Attorneys of California, a co-sponsor of this  
          bill, writes, "the key feature of [the expedited jury  
          trial] system is that litigants may participate on a  
          mutually voluntary basis when it suits the needs of the  
          case.  The streamlined jury trial system could cut  
          litigation costs across the board for plaintiffs,  
          defendants, insurance carriers, and the courts.  According  
          to a study of the South Carolina system by University of  
          Michigan Law Professor Steven Croley, the fast tracked  
          civil trials did not favor plaintiffs or defendants any  
          more than a traditional trial.


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          "The voluntary streamlined jury trial process gains its  
          efficiencies in several important areas that contribute to  
          the rising cost of civil litigation.  First, both sides can  
          stipulate to a high and low range on damages, which  
          guarantees that plaintiffs get paid a minimum amount and  
          that defendants can cap their liability.  Second, the  
          parties agree to empanel only eight jurors without  
          alternates rather than twelve with alternates.  Third, the  
          voir dire process would be further streamlined by using a  
          questionnaire agreed upon by the parties, by limiting the  
          use of peremptory challenges, and by allowing the judge to  
          participate.  This fast track voir dire process could help  
          the litigants and the court empanel an impartial jury in a  
          matter of hours.  Fourth, the streamlined jury trials would  
          not employ a court reporter unless a party pays that cost.   
          In sum, AB 2284 provides tremendous savings to all  
          participants in the civil jury trial system by promoting a  
          fast and fair jury trial and allowing courts to clear the  
          backlog of civil cases on their docket."

          ASSEMBLY FLOOR  : 
          AYES: Adams, Ammiano, Anderson, Arambula, Bass, Beall, Bill  
            Berryhill, Tom Berryhill, Blakeslee, Block, Bradford,  
            Brownley, Buchanan, Charles Calderon, Carter, Chesbro,  
            Conway, Cook, Coto, Davis, De La Torre, De Leon, DeVore,  
            Emmerson, Eng, Evans, Feuer, Fletcher, Fong, Fuentes,  
            Fuller, Furutani, Gaines, Galgiani, Garrick, Gilmore,  
            Hagman, Hall, Harkey, Hayashi, Hernandez, Hill, Jeffries,  
            Jones, Knight, Lieu, Logue, Bonnie Lowenthal, Ma,  
            Mendoza, Miller, Monning, Nava, Nestande, Niello,  
            Nielsen, V. Manuel Perez, Portantino, Ruskin, Salas,  
            Saldana, Silva, Skinner, Smyth, Solorio, Audra  
            Strickland, Swanson, Torlakson, Torres, Torrico, Tran,  
            Villines, Yamada, John A. Perez
          NO VOTE RECORDED: Blumenfield, Caballero, Huber, Huffman,  
            Norby, Vacancy


          RJG:do  8/3/10   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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