BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                           
           AB 2284
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          CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS
          AB 2284 (Evans)
          As Amended August 18, 2010
          Majority vote
          
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          |ASSEMBLY:  |74-0 |(April 22,      |SENATE: |31-0 |(August 20,    |
          |           |     |2010)           |        |     |2010)          |
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           Original Committee Reference:    JUD.  

           SUMMARY  :  Establishes, until January 1, 2016, the Expedited Jury  
          Trial Act, which authorizes a streamlined and consensual,  
          binding jury trial before a reduced jury panel and a judicial  
          officer only when the parties voluntarily agree after a dispute  
          arises and an action has been filed.  Specifically,  this bill  ,  
          among other things:

          1)Requires that any agreement to participate in an expedited  
            jury trial may be entered into only after a dispute has arisen  
            and an action has been filed.  

          2)Requires all parties agreeing to participate in an expedited  
            jury trial and, if represented, their counsel to sign a  
            proposed consent order granting an expedited jury trial. 

          3)Provides that an agreement to participate in an expedited jury  
            trial is binding on all parties unless: a) all parties  
            stipulate to end the agreement to participate in the expedited  
            jury trial; or b) 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.

          4)Provides that, except as specifically authorized in the Act,  
            the implementing rules, or in a consent order authorized  
            therein, the applicable statutes and rules governing civil  
            actions apply.

          5)Requires a court to approve the use of an expedited jury trial  
            and any "high/low" agreements or other stipulations in cases  
            involving:  a) An self-represented litigant; or b) A minor, an  
            incompetent person, or a person for whom a conservator has  








                                                                           
           AB 2284
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            been appointed.

          6)Requires that parties agreeing to an expedited jury trial  
            submit a carefully specified proposed consent order to the  
            court, and provides that the court shall 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 shall deny the  
            proposed consent order in its entirety.

          7)Allows the parties to request one additional peremptory  
            challenge each, which is to be granted by the court as the  
            interests of justice may require, and prescribes that a jury  
            may deliberate as long as needed.

          8)Provides that the rules of evidence apply in expedited jury  
            trials, unless the parties stipulate otherwise.  Any  
            stipulation by the parties to use relaxed rules of evidence  
            may not be construed to eliminate or in any way affect the  
            right of a witness or party to invoke any applicable privilege  
            or other law protecting confidentiality.

          9)Provides for the right to issue subpoenas and notices to  
            appear to secure the attendance of witnesses or the production  
            of documents at trial, per existing law.

          10)Provides 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.

          11)Specifies that, by agreeing to participate in the expedited  
            jury trial process, the parties 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.

          12)Prohibits the court from setting aside any verdict or any  
            judgment, directing that judgment be entered in favor of a  
            party entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and ordering a  
            new trial, except as specified.

          13)Restricts parties from making any post-trial motions except  








                                                                           
           AB 2284
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            motions for a new trial, motions relating to costs and  
            attorney's fees, motions to correct a judgment for clerical  
            error, and motions to enforce a judgment.  All statutes and  
            rules governing costs and attorney's fees apply in expedited  
            jury trials, unless the parties agree otherwise in the consent  
            order.

          14)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:

             a)   Additional content of proposed consent orders;
             b)   Pretrial exchanges and submissions;
             c)   Pretrial conferences;
             d)   Time limits for jury selection;
             e)   Time limits for trial, including presentation of  
               evidence and argument;
             f)   Presentation of evidence and testimony; and
             g)   Any other procedures necessary to implement the  
               provisions of the Act.

          15)Defines various purposes of and terms used in the Act.

           The Senate amendments  are completely consistent with the measure  
          that passed the Assembly, filling in various procedural and  
          technical aspects of this new effort to provide for expedited  
          jury trials at the parties' option.
           
          EXISTING LAW  establishes the right to a trial by jury, and  
          provides that a jury may be waived in a civil case only pursuant  
          to specified manners.  A jury trial consists of 12 persons,  
          except that in civil actions and cases of misdemeanor, it may  
          consist of 12 or any number less than 12, upon which the parties  
          may agree.  It further provides for the review of a judgment or  
          order in a civil action or proceeding by appeal, and requires  
          the Judicial Council to prescribe rules for the practice and  
          procedure on appeal consistent with state law.  

           AS PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY  , this bill authorized the Judicial  
          Council to adopt rules of court to establish procedures for  
          conducting expedited jury trials in civil cases where the  
          parties stipulate that those rules and procedures shall apply,  
          including provision for a jury of fewer than 12 members.








                                                                           
           AB 2284
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          FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee, pursuant to Senate Rule 28.8, negligible state costs.  

          COMMENTS  :  In support of the measure, the author states:

            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.

            Sixteen months ago, the Small Civil Cases Working Group, under  
            the auspices of the Judicial Council's Civil and Small Claims  
            Advisory Committee, began meeting to determine if there were  
            options available that would benefit Californians and the  
            courts.  The working group was comprised of representatives  
            from the courts, attorney organizations, the bar, insurers,  
            legal aid, business and consumer groups.  The working group  
            examined various options and focused its work on a model  
            originating in South Carolina.  

            In the late 1990s, the plaintiff and defense bars in  
            Charleston County, South Carolina, developed the model after  
            which this measure is patterned, which is an especially  
            attractive possibility for smaller civil cases.  The bars in  
            that state came together and established a voluntary,  
            inexpensive, accessible, and binding "summary jury trial"  
            program.  It uses a reduced-size jury, flexibility including  
            relaxed rules of evidence, and often involves high/low  
            agreements on the scope of damages.  The Charleston County  
            model has gained acclaim for its enhancing access to courts,  
            reducing costs for litigants, and increasing court efficiency.  
             The model continues to have support from the plaintiff and  
            defense bars, as well as the court, insurers, and businesses.   


            Using the Charleston County model as an overlay, the working  
            group developed the model for AB 2284, which 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  








                                                                           
           AB 2284
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            savings to the parties, reduces the backlog of civil cases,  
            and more efficiently manages jury resources.  The bill would  
            also direct the Judicial Council to adopt implementing rules  
            of court.

            The goal of the expedited jury trial in California is to  
            promote the speedy and economical resolution of cases and  
            conserve judicial resources.  Like the Charleston County  
            model, participation would be completely voluntary, the  
            applicable rules of procedure would be flexible, and a reduced  
            jury size would be employed.  The goal would be to complete a  
            trial in approximately one day.   Based on the South Carolina  
            experience, as well as other jurisdictions that have used  
            summary jury trials, it is expected that the courts, and  
            litigants, will see significant cost savings, as well as a  
            reduction in backlogs of civil cases, and more efficiently  
            managed jury resources.

          When the bill was previously heard in the Assembly, it merely  
          authorized the Judicial Council to adopt rules of court to  
          establish procedures for conducting expedited jury trials in  
          civil cases.  Since that time, the working group, in  
          consultation and collaboration with legislative representatives,  
          developed this consensus product.  The consensus product was  
          sent out for public comment by the Judicial Council, and  
          subsequently incorporated those comments that necessitated  
          change.  The original proposal that had been drafted to be  
          adopted as court rules was appropriately apportioned between the  
          branches, with the fundamental procedures to implement the  
          expedited civil jury trial process now proposed in this measure.  
           Under this approach, the Judicial Council will still develop  
          rules to provide additional guidance and clarification, but the  
          bill includes all provisions deemed appropriate for the new  
          statute.
          

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Drew Liebert / JUD. / (916) 319-2334 


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