April 7, 2015

Courtrooms in Illinois will begin to see a new makeup of juries soon, as effective June 1, 2015, all jury cases shall be tried by a jury of six. Previously, cases in which alleged damages exceeded $50,000 were tried by a jury of twelve, while in cases where alleged damages were lower than $50,000, either party could demand a jury of twelve. The bill was signed into law by outgoing Illinois Governor Pat Quinn last December. Businesses with potential exposure to litigation in Illinois courts should take note, and anticipate potential impact to their litigation.

A smaller jury often favors the plaintiff, as the fewer jurors the plaintiff must convince at trial, the easier it can be to obtain a favorable verdict. However, a smaller jury could also result in less time being spent on voir dire and reduced trial costs for both sides. Regardless of the effect, this change in Illinois law further emphasizes the critical importance of voir dire and selecting the right jury for your case.

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