The Right to a Trial by Jury

“I consider the trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution” — Thomas Jefferson, 1788

Both the United States and Wisconsin Constitutions guarantee the right to a trial by jury in all civil disputes. Business, medical and insurance interests are using their influence with politicians on both the state and national level to try to undermine and even destroy the right to jury trial. In Wisconsin, these lobbying efforts have already led to limitations on the amount which can be recovered for “non economic” damages (pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of the companionship of a loved one) when there is injury or death as a result of medical malpractice. Similar efforts are underway in the U.S. Congress. These efforts have been supported by a carefully orchestrated “public relations” campaign attacking trial lawyers and the jury system. Who hasn’t heard or read about “frivolous” lawsuits, greedy lawyers and outrageous jury awards? Who hasn’t been concerned about doctors who go on strike because they can’t get or afford malpractice insurance? Unfortunately, both the lobbying efforts and the PR campaign are based on half-truths, myths and outright lies.

A number of consumer interest groups have recognized the peril presented by those who would put “profits over people” and have worked hard to unmask the misrepresentations made to support the lobbying efforts. The Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers has joined with the Association of Trial Lawyers of America in educating our members and our clients to this problem and to what they can do to help preserve the right to trial by jury. To learn more about this important issue, visit one of links listed on the side bar of this website.