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Earlier today, the Illinois Supreme Court issued its long awaited opinion on the constitutionality of the 6-person jury Act. In Kakos v. Bauer, 2016 IL 120377, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously held unconstitutional Public Act 98-1132 (eff. June 1, 2015) which limited the size of civil juries to 6 and increased juror pay.

The court recognized that the U.S. Supreme Court had previously held that the U.S. Constitution did not guarantee a 12-person civil jury. However, the court found that the Illinois Constitution did protect the 12-person jury.  Article I, § 13 of the Bill of Rights to the 1970 Constitution of the State of Illinois, states that “[t]he right of trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate.”  The court held that a jury of 12 was what was “heretofore enjoyed” as existed at common law and under earlier constitutions and what the framers of the 1970 Illinois Constitution intended should remain “inviolate.” The floor debates during the 1970 Constitutional Convention showed that the framers specifically considered and rejected an amendment that would have allowed the General Assembly to reduce the size of civil juries. The court held that the entire Act was invalid as the provision regarding juror pay was not severable from the provision which limited the size of jurors.

So, we’re back to 12-person juries in Illinois, another procedural distinction between Illinois and many of its sister states, as well as the federal district courts.

For more information, please contact your Johnson & Bell attorney or Joseph F. Spitzzeri, General Counsel at Johnson & Bell, Ltd.