Pennsylvania Superior Court recently overruled a Philadelphia judge and held that it was improper to allow a case to proceed with only 8 jurors. The right to a trial by jury is one of the most fundamental rights of our legal system. The requirement to have 12 members on a jury is important for several reasons. First, in Pennsylvania civil trials, a verdict must be rendered by the agreement of 5 out of every 6 jurors. That means that when there are 12 jurors, it only takes the agreement of 10 jurors to reach a verdict. When only 8 jurors deliberate, it requires 7 of them to agree, which is a higher percentage. Consequently, it is generally to a plaintiff’s advantage to have 12 jurors. Second, a larger jury allows for a broader cross-section of people and helps to render a more fair and balanced verdict.
In the case of Gianni v. Phillips, at a pre-trial conference, a Philadelphia county judge asked if the parties would agree to allowing the case to proceed with only 8 jurors. Although the defendants agreed to having only 8 jurors, the plaintiff objected. Nevertheless, the Judge ordered that the case proceed to trial with only 8 jurors and a verdict was eventually rendered for the defendants. The plaintiff then appealed the ruling to Pennsylvania Superior Court, which held that permitting the case to proceed with only 8 jurors over the objection of any party was reversible legal error. Consequently, the case has been sent back to the Philadelphia County Court of Common Please for a new trial.
This case evidences how trial attorneys must fight for the rights of their clients even after a verdict is rendered. As an experienced trial attorney, I will vigoously represent you in your case. Although no one can ever guarantee a specific outcome and even judges commit error, without an experienced and capable attornely, a client can easily be overwhelmed by the judicial system. I work to protect all the rights of plaintiffs and to ensure that they recover everything to which they are entitled.