* This was a weird, completely out of the blue special interest bill which zoomed through both chambers right at the end of total Democratic rule…
* From the opinion…
Article I, section 13, of the Illinois Constitution, on the other hand, reveals an intent on the part of the drafters to maintain common- law characteristics of jury trials. Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 13. Article I, section 13, provides: “The right of trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate.” Id. The phrase “as heretofore enjoyed” plainly indicates that the drafters intended for certain characteristics of a jury trial to be maintained. For this reason, we construe the right of trial by jury protected by the Illinois Constitution differently than the rights protected by the federal constitution. […]
We recognize that both defendants’ and plaintiffs’ positions have some merit but remain concerned with whether the right to a 12-person jury was “heretofore enjoyed” at the time the 1970 Constitution was drafted. “Our task is limited to determining whether the challenged legislation is constitutional, and not whether it is wise.” […]
There is ample evidence that the drafters at the 1970 Constitutional Convention believed they were specifically preserving the right to a 12-person jury when they adopted the current constitution. […]
Because the size of the jury —12 people—was an essential element of the right of trial by jury enjoyed at the time the 1970 Constitution was drafted, we conclude jury size is an element of the right that has been preserved and protected in the constitution.
*** UPDATE *** Press release…
Doctors from the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) and ISMIE Mutual Insurance Company praise the Illinois Supreme Court’s 5-0 decision striking down an unconstitutional mandate to impose a six-person limit in civil jury size. Both organizations voiced concern over the flawed jury reduction legislation, which passed during the final days of Governor Quinn’s administration. The controversial law was considered an outgoing gesture to help personal injury lawyers, because smaller juries are perceived as more favorable to their clients.
“The move to allow six-person juries was misguided from day one,” said ISMS President Thomas M. Anderson, MD. He added that “delegates to both the 1870 and 1970 Illinois Constitutional Conventions considered the merit of six-person juries and purposefully deemed them inappropriate for Illinois. If that’s not an indication of constitutional intent, we don’t know what else could be.”
ISMIE Mutual Chairman Harold L. Jensen, MD offered that “the right to a trial before 12 people is an issue of legal fairness. Research has demonstrated that smaller juries have less diversity, are less deliberative and tend to deliver higher than average awards. Forcing the reduced jury composition is in essence a thumb on the legal scales.”
ISMS and ISMIE Mutual are proud of our advocacy to lead the effort to overturn this onerous law. Illinois’ difficult legal environment got a little bit better today.