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10 South LaSalle Street, Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60603

211 Landmark Drive, Suite C2, Normal, IL 61761

1015 Locust Street, Suite 914, St. Louis, MO 63101


Civil Jury Trials: 6 or 12 Members

May 2015

Public Act 98-1132 amended 735 ILCS 5/2-1105(b), which sets the number of members on civil juries. The amended statute holds civil trials will now be tried by a 6 person jury. This adversely affects the defense bar in Illinois. Studies show 6 person juries are more favorable to the plaintiff. This also explains why the plaintiff's bar supported the amendment.

A recent article written by Dennis Dohm, a retired Cook County Circuit Court judge, shows why amended Section 2-1105(b) is unconstitutional. When the statute takes effect on June 1, 2015, the defense bar should object to its implementation.

Civil juries have been made up of 12 members since Article II's Bill of Rights of the 1870 Illinois Constitution was written. In addition, Section 13 of Article I in the 1970 Illinois Constitution titled "Trial by Jury" states "[t]he right of trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate." Section 13 of the 1970 Illinois Constitution holds the right to a 12 person jury shall never be violated.

Public Act 98-1132, which was signed into law in December 2014, provides that a civil jury will only consist of 6 jurors moving forward, which is in direct opposition to the 1970 Illinois Constitution. When the 1970 Constitution was being debated, the issue of how many members would be needed for a civil jury was widely discussed. An examination of the written record of these deliberations between the framers of the 1970 Constitution show a civil jury trial is to be tried by a 12 member jury.

During deliberations in 1970, Elmer Gertz, Chairman of the Bill of Rights Committee stated the Committee's "meaning of the constitutional right to trial by jury in civil cases: Juries of less than 12 are by consent of the parties. They are not constitutional or even statutory ... So far as the constitution is concerned, the jury must be one of 12 members in civil cases unless the parties otherwise agree." This statement shows it is against the wishes and directives of our forefathers in the state of Illinois to require that a jury in a civil case only consist of six members. The framers expressly rejected any further discussion or amendment for civil juries of less than twelve members.

Based on the language of the 1970 Constitution, there is no doubt the trial by jury provision in Article I of the Illinois Constitution means that a civil jury is to be composed of 12 members, unless the parties otherwise agree. As such, the amendment to Section 2-1105(b) of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure through Public Act 98-1132 is unconstitutional.

  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association
  • DRI
  • The Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Illinois Self-Insurers' Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association
  • DRI
  • The Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Illinois Self-Insurers' Association
10 South LaSalle Street, Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312-425-3131
211 Landmark Drive, Suite C2
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: 309-862-4914
1015 Locust Street, Suite 914
St. Louis, MO 63101
Phone: 314-300-0527
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