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One-day trials might help unclog courts

March 27, 2011 |  1:10 pm

Court officials are turning to one-day trials to help over things along in the overburdened justice system.

One hour for jury selection, three hours each for plaintiff and defendant to put on their cases. Only eight jurors are seated — even fewer if both sides agree — instead of the usual 12 plus alternates. There's no need for expensive court reporter transcription because the swift and small jury's decision is final.

The five men and three women on the jury for Gomez vs. Moawad, a traffic accident case, heard just four hours of testimony and came back after three hours of deliberation with a verdict assigning 60% blame for the accident to Moawad. The jurors awarded Gomez $21,000 in compensation, minus 40% for his own culpability in the crash for making an unsafe turn, requiring Moawad to pay him $12,600.

The lightning trials allow parties in a conflict to agree in advance to stipulate to a broad range of time- and money-saving matters, such as a minimum and maximum for the damage award that lets both sides know the worst-case outcome and avoids the possibility of a rogue jury verdict.

Expedited jury trials hold forth encouraging prospects for all involved, participants say. Jurors can fulfill their public service in a single day — two at most.

Read the full story: Los Angeles County tries to expedite justice with fast-paced trials

-- Carol J. Williams