34 Me. L. Rev. 63 (1982)
Civil Juries in Maine: Are the Benefits Worth the Costs

handle is hein.journals/maine34 and id is 69 raw text is: CIVIL JURIES IN MAINE: ARE THE
Justice Donald Alexander*
Throughout this century, legal scholars have vigorously criticized
civil juries with little apparent effect.1 Despite the civil jury's long
history of successful resistance to change, new considerations make
it imperative that we conduct a fundamental review of the function-
ing of the civil jury as an instrument of justice for the twenty-first
That review has begun in Maine. Under the direction of the
Maine Supreme Judicial Court, a comprehensive jury management
study has just been completed.2 Proposals for changes in jury man-
agement and efficiency are now being developed. As part of this pro-
cess, we can simply perpetuate the past or take a fresh look and
change direction if necessary.
An examination of the civil jury system focuses on several impor-
tant concerns. First, the rights of the jurors are now clearly sub-
servient to the rights of the litigants. We must decide whether we
violate the rights of jurors when we honor one citizen's right to de-
mand that eight or nine of his fellow citizens sit and hear his case,
no matter how petty the claim may be. Second, compared with
available alternatives, juries are an extremely costly mechanism for
dispute resolution. In 1980, Maine taxpayers spent approximately
$341,000 to resolve the 155 civil disputes that were submitted to ju-
ries.3 When many vital government expenditures are being cut, this
costly program in which so few participate must not be exempt from
review. Third, as the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has re-
* Justice of Maine Superior Court; Judge of Maine District Court, 1978-1980; Dep-
uty Attorney General for State of Maine, 1976-1978; Assistant Attorney General for
State of Maine, 1974-1976;-J.D. University of Chicago, 1967; A.B. Bowdoin College,
1. Twenty years ago, one writer observed 'The jury system has been unmercifully
beaten in the literature of law for the past fifty years. Green, Juries and Jus-
tice-The Jury's Role in Personal Injury Cases, 1962 U. ILL. L.F. 152, 152. See also
(1973); Boston, Some Practical Remedies for Existing Defects in the Administration
of Justice, 61 U. PA. L. REv. 1 (1912); Redish, Seventh Amendment Right to Jury
Trial: A Study in the Irrationality of Rational Decision Making, 70 Nw. U.L. Ray.
486 (1975); Comment, The Case for Special Juries in Complex Civil Litigation, 89
YALE L.J. 1155 (1980).
2. M. Solomon, Report on Juror Selection and Usage in Maine, Final Report of
Phase Il of the JUM Incentive Program (Apr. 1981) (prepared for the Administrative
Office of the Courts, State of Maine).
3. For a detailed discussion of jury costs statistics, see notes 6-9 and accompany-
ing text infra and Appendix A.

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