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Scottsdale, Arizona

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Geoff Trachtenberg
Geoff Trachtenberg
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No Runaway Jury System In Arizona: 2006 Verdicts Are, If Anything, Low.

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Two days ago I posted the 2006 civil jury awards in Arizona. The thing that I found interesting is the Maricopa County median is a paltry $70,879. By the way, the reported figures are all artifically high because they do not include defense verdicts of zero!

Among other things, this makes me recall the pending unconstitutional legislation to allow courts to raise the compulsory arbitration limit to $65,000. This would mean about one-half of the cases in the Maricopa County Superior Courts will be put through some kind of compulsory arbitration.

While I have never taken much of an issue with compulsory arbitration, it seems wrong to me. It seems to disproportionately impose a substantial burden on the people who can least afford it and effectively creates an entirely separate court system for them. What happened to the days of small claims, justice courts, superior courts and so on? If the Legislature / Courts do not want these types of cases in superior court, then why have this system that treats some litigants differently than others in the same court? Why not just create a lower court system to handle these types of cases?

Anyway, back to the verdict number, it’s low, low, low. Even the average is under $1.0 million which, while not shockingly low, certainly does not reflect a runaway jury system.