Legal Memorandum: Right to a Jury Trial in OH

Issue: Under Ohio law, in what cases is a jury trial to be provided?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Right to jury trial; Constitution
Jurisdiction: Ohio
Cited Cases: 590 N.E.2d 737; 533 N.E.2d 743; 633 N.E.2d 504; 640 N.E.2d 1160
Cited Statutes: Article I, Section 5 of the Ohio Constitution; Ohio Rev. Code § 2317.45; Article I, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution;
Date: 02/01/2001

An individual’s right to a jury trial derives from three sources: the United States Constitution, a state constitution or a statute that creates a cause of action that includes a right to trial by jury.  Kneisley v. Lattimer-Stevens Co., 40 Ohio St. 3d 354, 533 N.E.2d 743, 746 (1988).  The right to trial guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution is not applicable in state actions.  Digital & Analog Design Corp. v. North Supply Co., 63 Ohio St. 3d 657, 590 N.E.2d 737, 742, n.1 (1992).

In Ohio, the right to a jury trial is guaranteed by Article I, Section 5 of the Ohio Constitution.  It is a “fundamental and inviolate right.” Sorrell v. Thevenir, 69 Ohio St. 3d 415, 633 N.E.2d 504, 510 (1994). Governmental action that limits the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights is subject to the highest level of scrutiny.  Id., 633 N.E.2d at 511.  Any governmental action that limits a citizen’s right to a trial by jury must be shown “necessary to promote a compelling governmental interest.”  Id. at 511-13 (Ohio Rev. Code § 2317.45, requiring trial courts to deduct from a plaintiff’s jury award collateral benefits, held unconstitutional because it undermines right of victims to obtain full redress in Ohio courts, citing Article I, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution).

However, as the court in Sorrell pointed out, Section 5, Article I of the Ohio Constitution “does not guarantee a jury trial in […]

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