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Rule 31. Summary Jury Trial

(a)  Cases for Summary Jury Trial Proceedings.  The parties may request, and the court may order that a summary jury trial be held in any case, provided the following conditions are satisfied:

     (1)  The case is not one in which the credibility of a witness is likely to be determinative of the outcome of the case.

     (2)  The decision in the case will not set a precedent but simply requires the application of existing law.

     (3)  The case shall be in trial readiness when called for summary jury trial and all discovery shall have been completed.

(b)  Objections To Order for Summary Jury Trial. Specific objections to an order placing a case on the summary jury trial list shall be raised by motion filed within 10 days of the mailing of notice of such order and shall be heard by the presiding judge.

(c)  Summary Jury Trial; When and Where Held; Notice.

    (1)  Summary jury trials shall be held at the time and place designated by the presiding judge. The court shall notify counsel in writing, at least 15 days before the trial, of the time and place of trial.

    (2)  Unless excused by order of court, clients or client representatives shall be in attendance at the summary jury trial.

(d)  Jury Panel. The case shall be heard before a jury of six members or such lesser number as the parties may stipulate, drawn in accordance with usual procedures. Once a juror has served on a summary jury, he or she shall not serve on any regular jury during the same term.

(e)  Jury Instructions. Unless excused by order of court, counsel shall submit proposed jury instructions to the court and opposing counsel no later than 5 days before the date set for hearing.

(f)  Presentation of Evidence.  All evidence shall be presented through the attorneys, non-attorney representatives or parties (if self-represented), who may incorporate arguments on such evidence in their presentations.  Each representative shall be given one hour to describe to the jury that party’s view of the circumstances of the case.  Counsel may reserve a portion of the hour for a statement in rebuttal.  Only evidence that would be admissible at trial upon the merits may be presented.  Counsel may only present factual representations supportable by reference to discovery materials, to a signed statement of a witness, to a stipulation, or to a document or by a professional representation that counsel personally spoke with the witness and is repeating what the witness stated.  Statements, reports and depositions may be read from, but not at undue length.  Physical exhibits, including documents, may be exhibited during a presentation and submitted for the jury’s consideration.

(g)  Exhibits.  Prior to the summary jury trial, counsel shall mark and exchange copies of all proposed exhibits they plan to offer at said trial and inform the court whether they object to any proposed exhibit, setting forth reasons in support thereof. Failure to exchange a proposed exhibit shall constitute valid grounds for objection to admission. Failure to file an objection to any exchanged proposed exhibit shall constitute a waiver of any objection thereto.

(h)  Objections.  Objections will be received if in the course of a presentation counsel goes beyond the limits of propriety in presenting statements as to evidence or argument thereon.

(i)  The Court’s Charge. After presentations, the jury will be given an abbreviated charge by the presiding judge on the applicable law.

(j)  Verdict.  The jury may return either a consensus verdict or a special verdict consisting of an anonymous statement of each juror’s findings on liability and/or damages (each known as the jury’s advisory opinion). The jury will be encouraged to return a consensus verdict.

(k)  Transcript.  No record of the proceedings shall be permitted except in extraordinary circumstances, as determined by the court.

(l)  Effect of Verdict.  Counsel may stipulate that a consensus verdict by the jury will be deemed a final determination on the merits and that judgment be entered thereon by the court, or may stipulate to any other use of the verdict that will aid in the resolution of the case.

(m)  Restoration to Active List; Inadmissibility of Summary Jury Trial Proceedings.  The parties shall notify the court within 15 days after entry of the summary jury trial verdict whether settlement in the case has been reached. If a settlement agreement or stipulations for docket markings are not filed, the case shall be forthwith restored to the trial docket. In the event that no settlement is reached following the summary jury trial, and the case is restored to the trial docket, no person shall be called as a witness to testify what took place in the summary jury proceeding. In such event, the documents relating to that proceeding and the evidence presented therein shall be sealed and shall not be admissible, except for such evidence as is otherwise admissible at trial under the rules of evidence. The judge who presided at the summary jury proceeding shall not be the trial judge.

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