Constitutional Right to a Jury Trial



Three separate provisions of the U.S. Constitution provide for the right to a trial by jury. Article III, Sec. 2 provides: “The trial of all crimes shall be by jury and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes have been committed.” The Sixth Amendment says: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state where the said crimes shall have been committed.” Finally, for civil matters, the Seventh Amendment provides: “In all 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 by an court of the United States.”

The first two above provisions as to criminal trials greatly overlap. The Sixth Amendment was added as part of the Bill of Rights that would be guaranteed by the Constitution. However, it has only been relatively recently has this right been mandatory in both federal and state courts. As to the Seventh Amendment which covers civil trials, this provision only applies to federal courts which deal only with laws passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. According to the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1999 decision, the Seventh Amendment does not apply in state courts.