Contact Your Lawmaker On The House Civil Law Committee NOW!
Your immediate help is needed to pass HB 343 (Right to Jury Trial Bill). This legislation would increase the opportunity for Louisiana citizens to receive the right to choose a trial by jury in a civil case. HB 343 by Rep Ligi is scheduled to be heard in the House Civil Law Committee on Monday, April 2, at 10:30 a.m.
Most Louisiana citizens believe they have an automatic right to a trial before a jury of their peers, yet that is not always the case in civil lawsuits. Because Louisiana's current and unique law dictates civil claims under $50,000 must be decided by a judge -- not a jury -- many citizens are being denied their fundamental right to a trial before a jury. The practical impact of this threshold has significantly reduced the number of civil jury trials held in the state and minimized important citizen participation in the process. Unfortunately, this also puts more power into the hands of Louisiana’s elected judges and encourages a culture of "venue shopping” where some contingency fee attorneys (who make their money directly based on court outcomes) seek out judges who have an established track record of ruling in favor of plaintiffs.
While most of our state’s judges are fair, reasonable and uphold themselves to the highest ethical standards, it is clear that money contributed to judicial elections may at times add an element of political pressure juries do not experience. Removing or lowering Louisiana’s civil jury trial threshold will allow more citizens to participate in the judicial process and give more parties involved in court proceedings the opportunity to have their issues decided by citizens rather than elected officials.
At $50,000, Louisiana’s current jury trial threshold is by far the highest in the United States. This means that you must be sued for AT LEAST $50,000 before you can request a trial before a jury of your peers. Far down the line is Maryland’s $15,000 threshold, and 36 states have a threshold of ZERO! Additionally, only two states -- Louisiana and Colorado -- do not protect this right in their constitutions.
To help change this law, take a minute to call or send a message to your lawmaker on the House Civil Law Committee. Ask your representative to SUPPORT HB 343.
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