Seventh Amendment Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and part of the Bill of Rights that guaranteed the right to a jury trial in civil common law cases at the federal level.

The Seventh Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified in 1791. It guaranteed the right to trial by jury in federal civil cases. The amendment was designed to preserve the common law distinction between issues of law and issues of fact. In Baltimore and Carolina Line v. Redman[case]Baltimore and Carolina Line v. Redman[Baltimore and Carolina Line v. Redman] (1935), the Court held that the judge should remain the trier of law, deciding unresolved issues of law, and the jury should remain the trier of fact, resolving issues of fact under appropriate instructions by the court.Jury, trial byJury, trial byJury composition and size

The amendment’s guarantee applies to all courts under the authority of the United States, including territories and the District of Columbia. Generally, the amendment does not apply to state courts, except when the state court is enforcing a federally created right. When a federal court is enforcing a state-created right, it may follow its own rules based on the interests of the federal court system.

In Colgrove v. Battin[case]Colgrove v. Battin[Colgrove v. Battin] (1973), the Court held that a federal district court’s authorization of civil juries composed of six persons instead of the traditional twelve was permissible under the Seventh Amendment.

Bill of Rights

Common law, federal

Jury, trial by

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