Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Demand for Jury Trial: Empirical Analysis

Who chooses a jury trial? Does it affect other choices, such as settlement? See Joni Hersch, Demand for a Jury Trial and the Selection of Cases for Trial, 35 J. Legal Studies 119 (2006).

This paper uses a unique data set to examine how parties in civil litigation choose whether to demand a jury trial or to waive this right and whether trial forum influences the probability of trial versus settlement. Plaintiffs are more likely to demand trial by jury when juries are relatively more favorable to plaintiffs in similar cases and jury trials are relatively less costly than bench trials. Cases in which jury trials are demanded are 5.5 percentage points more likely to settle without a trial than cases in which jury trials are waived. This differential settlement rate by potential trial forum suggests that tried cases are not a random sample of the set of legal disputes, so observed similarities between bench and jury verdicts may result from case selection effects.

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