Blawgletter adores people who ponder, and write about, Things That Really Matter.
One of those we admire most, Charles Darwin, told about natural selection. He wrote, when Queen Victoria ruled, that flora and fauna evolve in ways that fit them to endure the cold cruelness of our world — else other plants and critters will defeat them in the millenia-long battle to survive.
Mr. Darwin's most famous book, On the Origin of Species (1856) — which we've read nearly to the end — will persuade most all — as it has us! — that his theory makes good sense. A great many readers will, indeed — like us! — conclude that Mother Nature rewards the winners . . . and kills the losers . . . but does so over huge spans of time . . . kajillions of years. And these folks may even believe – like us! — that Darwin's theory leaves plenty of room for God.
Another broad thinker, William Royal Furgeson, Jr., has lately written at Some Length about a single sentence — one that matters a Great Deal to lovers of democracy. It says:
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Judge Furgeson's new essay on this, the seventh amendment, opens thus:
Civil jury trials in America have been declining at a steady rate for the last thirty years. This trend has been well-documented. If the trend continues, within the foreseeable future, civil jury trials in America may eventually become, for all practical purposes, extinct. The purpose of this essay is not, however, to pen a eulogy to the civil jury trial; rather, it is (1) to recite the reasons why the jury trial has been and continues to be crucial to America's civil justice system; (2) to examine the reasons why it is in decline; and, in so doing, (3) to suggest approaches that might return it to its rightful place in American jurisprudence.
Royal Furgeson, "Civil Jury Trials R.I.P.? Can It Actually Happen in America?", 40 St. Mary's L.J. 795, 797 (2009).
We admire, and share, Judge Furgeson's passion for civil jury trials. We agree, with him and Tocqueville, that trial by jury in civil cases "invests each citizen with a kind of magistracy" and serves " as one of the most efficacious means for the education of the people which society can employ."
Thank you, Your Honor!