Loyola Law Journal – Chief Judge Holderman on innovations in jury trials

By Jason Rantanen

Chief Judge Holderman: Innovations to Improve Juror Understanding in Patent Jury Trials.  (My notes from the first panel are too much of a mess to be worth posting).

Talking about how can we get rights enforced in a way that will work effectively for both the owner of the rights and the people who believe that there are other rights that the owners don't own.

Jury trials remain the ultimate dispute resolution mechanism in America, but less than 5% of the civil cases filed in America's courts go to trial before a jury. 

Why do we let juries decide patent cases?  Largely because it's who we are as a people.  Amendment VII to the Constitution. 

So how can we preserve the constitutional right as a viable and reliable dispute resolution mechanism in patent cases?

Implement innovations in jury trial procedures to maximize juror understanding of the evidence, minimize the jurors' urge to go beyond the evidence, and provide the litigants a fair trial. 

As new generations of Americans step into the jury box, they bring different life experiences and mechanisms to gather information with them.  So we need to address changes in societal expectations. 

Played the IADC's Order in the Classroom video [What if a college course were taught using the procedures and rules of a jury trial?]

In October 2005, the Seventh Circuit Bar Associate established a Commission to test certain of the ABA innovations in actual jury trials.   Focused on three tools:
1) Allowing jurors to submit written questions during evidentiary phase: Jurors, judges, and judges thought that this increased juror understanding.  This is good because it helps keep the jurors from going far afield. 

2) Allowing attorneys to make interim statements to the jury: Also agreement that this increased juror understanding.

3) Giving the jury a set of preliminary substantive jury instructions. Also agreement that this increased juror understanding.

Other tools: Allowing the jurors to discuss the case among themselves from the beginning, subject to some constraints: everyone has to be present for the discussion and you can't come to a conclusion until you've heard all the evidence.  The reason why he does this is because, as the younger generations come into the jury room and those jurors are people who are constantly communicating with each other, this allows them some relief. 

These are the tools that will help with the use of jurors in patent cases. 

Undertone of concern about the effects of the sequester on the availability of civil jury trials.  Concern that they may be going away for the time being.