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Frie, Arndt & Danborn Blog

Alternative Dispute Resolution – Summary Jury Trial

by Frie, Arndt & Danborn

Alternative Dispute Resolution – Summary Jury Trial

A summary jury trial is a process wherebyColorado Lake and Mountains

-summary presentations in complex cases

-are made before a jury empaneled to make findings

-which may or may not be binding.

The summary jury trial is the only ADR method which provides for case presentation before a jury. Although the process is time limited, the parties have the satisfaction of having their case heard by their peers. The goal of the summary jury trial is to provide litigants with a jury verdict which will help them facilitate settlement.

Although a summary jury trial may be voluntary, it is generally initiated upon motion by one or all of the litigants or the court. In the court context, the parties select six jurors from a panel of ten to twelve jurors. After a brief voir dire by the court or the attorneys, the jurors are empaneled.

Case presentation is usually limited to one hour, including rebuttal, although this time period may be extended if the case is unusually complex. Evidentiary and procedural rules are somewhat relaxed, and the court will resolve disagreements.

The jurors are not instructed regarding the advisory nature of their verdict. They hear and consider the evidence and dosing arguments, then retire with an abbreviated charge and juror forms. It is only after the jury renders its verdict that they are told that it is advisory and will be used to facilitate settlement.

The summary jury trial can drastically cut trial time, and it can provide a catalyst for settlement. It also provides a way to obtain feedback as to how the case will be received at trial. The disadvantages of this method relate to preparation time, disclosure of case strategy and potential expenses. In order to be effective, the case must, in essence, be ready for trial. All motions must be finalized, and discovery must be complete. Thus, by the time of the summary jury trial, litigants may have a substantial investment in the case which may limit settlement options. Additionally, trial strategies may be inappropriately revealed, and expense and delay will be added if the subsequent negotiations do not result in settlement.

The summary jury trial can be an efficient, relatively low-risk method to obtain an assessment of the case on which to base settlement negotiations.

Our firm attempts to utilize Alternative Dispute Resolution in each case in which it would benefit the client.  Additionally, Jim Arndt is a private mediator and acts as a neutral third party to resolve disputes out of court.  Please give our office a call to assist you with your legal problems.


This is an excerpt from an article published by the Colorado Bar Association, 2002. https://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/211/subID/1244/CAAD/Manual-on-Alternative-Dispute-Resolution/