Hastings Law Journal
States as Litgants in Federal Court: Whether the Seventh Amendment Right to Jury Trial Applies to the States
Courts have struggled to define the scope and meaning of the seventh amendment over the past two centuries. Only the Ninth and Tenth Circuits have determined whether the seventh amendment right to jury trial extends to a state litigant. Both circuits concluded that the state has such a right, but failed to provide a sound basis for their conclusion. Recognizing that the lack of a sound basis for extension of the seventh amendment jury trial right can lead to inconsistent determinations of the issue, this Note fully examines the question and develops such a basis. The Note first discusses the historic issue test, tra. ditionally used to determine whether an issue carries a seventh amendment jury trial right. The Note then demonstrates that the Ninth and Tenth Circuits' respective applications of that test provide weak precedent for extension of the seventh amendment guarantee to states. Next, the Note demonstrates that a broad interpretation of the historic issue test also fails to determine adequately a state's seventh amendment right. Because application of the historic issue test fails to provide adequate precedent for resolution of the issue, the Note argues that policy considerations underlying the seventh amendment should serve as guidelines for determining the extent of a state's jury trial rights. The Note concludes that extending the seventh amendment guarantee to the state is consistent with these policy considerations.
Julia A. Dahlberg,
States as Litgants in Federal Court: Whether the Seventh Amendment Right to Jury Trial Applies to the States,
37 Hastings L.J. 637
Available at: https://repository.uclawsf.edu/hastings_law_journal/vol37/iss4/4