The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

447. Joni Hersch, Jury Demands and Trials, 11/2003; forthcoming in Journal of Legal Studies.

Abstract: The behavior of juries in civil cases has been a focal concern in the legal reform debate. Whether a case would have a jury trial rather than a bench trial depends on decisions made by the parties to the legal dispute. In most civil litigation, either party may demand a jury trial, and this demand cannot be vetoed by the other party. This paper provides the first economic analysis of demand for jury trial and the implications of this choice on parties' settlement behavior. The empirical exploration of these issues uses a unique data set of almost 4,000 federal cases. The results are consistent with an economic model of the litigation process. Plaintiffs are more likely to demand trial by jury when juries are relatively more favorable to plaintiffs in similar cases, jury awards are more variable relative to bench awards, and the disparity in trial costs is smaller. Cases demanding jury trial are 5.5 percentage points more likely to settle without trial.

447: PDF