HP Defends the Right to a Jury Trial

Posted on Tuesday, 27 August 2013

First, over defendants' objections, the San Francisco Superior Court ("SFSC") consolidated 17 asbestos personal injury cases for trial, splitting them into 6 subgroups. Then, on August 5, the Court issued an order, requiring all parties to prepay all of the estimated voir dire and jury fees for the entire duration of the trial. Non-compliant parties would be deemed to have forfeited the right to a jury and be subject to monetary sanctions. On behalf of HP clients Foster Wheeler LLC and Union Carbide Corp., Edward R. Hugo, James Parker and Shelley Tinkoff filed a writ with the First District Court of Appeals contending that the order requiring prepayment of jury-related fees was unconstitutional and violated Code of Civil Procedure section 631, which provides that jury fees are due daily.


On August 9, the Court of Appeal granted HP's writ and stayed the SFSC's "Prepay or Forfeit" order, pending a response from the trial court. The next day, the SFSC issued a second order, striking its "Prepay or Forfeit" order and returning the payment of jury fees to a daily basis. Litigants will no longer be punished for exercising the right to a jury trial in The City.

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