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Summary Jury Trial

​A summary jury trial is a voluntary, binding jury trial, typically conducted in a single day before a panel of six jurors and presided over by the assigned judge, a judge appointed by the court, or a special hearing officer selected jointly by the parties.  The summary jury trial process is intended to afford parties an efficient and economical means of resolving their dispute.  The Michigan Supreme Court has authorized courts to conduct pilot projects to study the effectiveness of the summary jury trial process in resolving civil cases without adjudication by the trial court.  Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions below for additional information.


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Summary Jury Trial Participation

  1. The A​O authorizing courts to operate summary jury trials requires that the court begin operating “after approval by the Court.”  How do I get approved?  

    Submit a request to the State Court Administrator.  The Court authorized the SCA to approve requests to conduct a summary jury trial.

  2. The AO requires me to “track participation in and the effectiveness of” the summary jury trials, and report findings to the Supreme Court.  How do I do that?

    There is no standard evaluation form.  But for purposes of tracking effectiveness, it would be important to know how many SJTs your court had conducted, how much time was saved in conducting a SJT instead of a traditional trial, and the general assessment (positive or negative) expressed by the litigants and their attorneys, the jurors, and the judge.

  3. How do I know which cases would be right for this type of trial?

    The AO gives some examples of the noncomplex types of cases that might be appropriate (tort, no-fault, and business cases that do not involve complex facts or numerous witnesses), but each court may determine what standards to use for identifying eligible cases.  This may result in different courts using the process for different types of cases.

  4. I (as a litigant or attorney) would like to explore the possibility of SJT for my case, but I’m scheduled for case evaluation and/or mediation (the dates were set when I filed my case).  Do I still have to participate in the case evaluation/mediation?

    No.  AO No. 2015-1 states that upon filing a consent order for SJT, the trial court shall not require the parties to participate in mediation or case evaluation before the SJT.  However, the parties may voluntarily do so.

  5. When do I get my trial date?

    The clerk of the court, in consultation with the parties, will set a date at least 56 days in advance, and provide notice to the attorneys and parties.

  6. Are the evidentiary rules different? 

    Given the expedited nature of the SJT, discovery is also conducted on an expedited basis.  Documentary restrictions and witness limitations are described in the order.

  7. Do I still have to have a pretrial conference like in other jury trials?

    Yes.  The required matters to be discussed are listed in the order.

  8. What if I want a transcript?

    The order stipulates that a SJT will not be recorded by the court’s court reporter like other trials.  If a party wants a transcript, the party may record or transcribe the proceedings at the party’s own expense.

  9. What about jury selection?

    The procedure for selecting a jury is different from that of selecting jurors in other jury trial cases.  There are no challenges for cause, and of the ten potential jurors originally selected from the regular jury pool, the parties simply sequentially strike two jurors each.

  10. What are the time restrictions involved?

    SJTs are expected to last no more than one day.  To promote that outside time limit, the order defines the periods of time that are expected to apply for jury selection, opening statements, presentation of proofs, and closing arguments.  Jury instructions should be limited to ensure the complete set can be read in no more than 10 minutes.

  11. What happens when the case goes to the jury?

    The jury will return a verdict on a written jury form, and it is binding, subject to any written high/low limitations that were agreed upon by the parties before the case was tried.  Agreement by five of the six jurors is required for a verdict.

  12. What about postjudgment motions?

    The only postjudgment motion allowed is a motion for new trial that alleges: an irregularity that denied the moving party a fair trial, misconduct of the jury or prevailing party during the trial, error in law, or fraud.   The motion is filed with the trial court, and must be filed within 7 days after entry of the jury’s verdict.

  13. What about appeal?

    There is no right to appeal except in the case of fraud.  Any such appeal is made to the Court of Appeals.

  14. What are the postjudgment disposition requirements?

    The nonprevailing party must pay the judgment amount within 28 days after the jury renders a verdict.  Upon payment, the prevailing party shall submit an Order of Dismissal with Prejudice for entry by the court.  If a party does not pay as required, the trial court must enter an Order of Judgment for the verdict amount.

  15. Can I recover costs?

    No.  The right to seek costs and sanctions is waived, except in cases involving fraud.