Maryland Civil Jury Trials Act, Question 3 (2006)
Question 3 amended Article 5 of the Declaration of Rights of the Maryland Constitution to authorize legislation that limits the right to a trial by jury in civil proceedings to civil cases where "the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000."
Summary of measure
The Maryland Department of Legislative Services is required by Section 7-105 of the Election Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland to provide voters with neutral summaries of ballot questions. For Question 3, that summary was:
| Civil Jury Trials - Amount in Controversy
Amends Article 5(a) of the Declaration of Rights to authorize the enactment of legislation to limit the right to trial by jury in civil proceedings to those proceedings in which the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000.
Currently, Article 23 of the Declaration of Rights guarantees the right to a jury trial in a civil proceeding where the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000. "Amount in controversy" generally means the amount of monetary damages claimed in a civil case. Current statutory law, enacted to implement this constitutional provision, authorizes a party in a civil case in which the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000 to request a jury trial. The intent of these constitutional and statutory provisions was to limit the right to a jury trial in civil proceedings to those cases in which the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000.
However, in a 2004 case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland (the State's highest court) ruled that Article 5(a) of the Declaration of Rights establishes a common law right to a trial by jury in all civil cases and that Article 23 does not affect this right in cases where the amount in controversy is $10,000 or less.
This constitutional amendment proposes an amendment to Article 5(a) to expressly grant the General Assembly the authority to enact legislation that limits the right to trial by jury in civil proceedings to those proceedings in which the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000. During the 2006 session, the General Assembly also passed companion legislation (Chapter 575) to make the changes to statutory law necessary to implement this constitutional amendment. That legislation, which will only take effect if the constitutional amendment is ratified, prohibits a party in a civil case from requesting a jury trial if the amount in controversy does not exceed $10,000. (Amending the Declaration of Rights, Article 5)"
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