Justices of the peace and jury trials
bryanw at tjsl.edu
Sat Jan 24 20:19:21 PST 2004
In my current work on a book about application of the Bill of Rights to the states via the 14th Amendment, one issue I am addressing is to what extent state constitutions circa 1868 guaranteed equivalent rights.
As part of that, I have looked at state const guarantees of civil jury trial. I have found that all states (except Louisiana) guaranteed some type of civil jury trial. Many, however, vested jurisdiction in "justice of the peace" courts over civil disputes of less than some cut-off amount (typically $50-$300, above the federal 7th Amendment $20 cut-off). Also, JOP's sometimes handled minor criminal trials. (Louisiana, while not guaranteeing civil jury trial, seemed to follow a practice of granting it in most cases over $500.)
My understanding and assumption has been that cases tried by a JOP would not involve a jury.
Is anyone aware of any significant historical tradition (esp. circa 1868) of JOP's trying cases (civil or criminal) WITH a jury?
If not, but anyone can simply confirm my understanding, that would make me feel better.
Perhaps replies to the full list are appropriate, to avoid repetitive answers -- and just in case anyone else finds this remotely interesting.
Thanks very much,
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
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