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On July 4, 1776, the founding fathers of the United States signed the Declaration of Independence stating:

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness.

The Declaration of Independence lists grievances against the King of Great Britain that were the reasons for declaring an independent nation. One of those reasons was:

For depriving us, in many cases, of trial by jury.

In 1791, the Bill of Rights which is the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution was adopted which included the 7th Amendment which states:

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 reexamined in any court in the United States, than according to rules of common law.

The 4th of July is a good time to remember to resist any so called “tort reform” to restrict citizen’s rights to jury trial by putting caps or limits on the amount of damages a jury can award.

Another important infringement on the right to jury trial is enforcement of “arbitration clauses” in consumer contracts to buy cars, cell phones, and other services and products. These arbitration clauses deprive consumers of their right to jury trial and few consumers are even aware of the meaning of these clauses in small print in consumer contracts until they are defrauded or try to join a class action lawsuit.

These arbitration clauses waive rights to jury trial and require that consumer disputes be decided by an individual arbitrator who is picked by the corporation accused of defrauding consumers. This eliminates a consumer’s right to jury trial or to appeal the arbitrator’s decision.

Remember to protect our rights on the 4th of July!

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