SUMMARY JURY TRIAL PROGRAM [SJT]

INFORMATION SHEET

General Features:

  An SJT is a binding one day jury trial with relaxed rules of evidence
  Medical evidence can be submitted without live medical testimony
  Hi-Low parameters can be stipulated to, i.e., $0/$25k , $50k/$250k, etc.
  No Appeal
  No directed verdicts
  No motions to set aside the verdict
  A date certain for trial
  Innovative methods of case presentation to the jury, direct submission to jury of medical records, reports, power point presentations, etc.
  Supreme Court Judge or Judicial Hearing Officer to preside at the trial

General Rules:

  Written stipulation by attorneys to participate
  Signed waiver of right to appeal and waiver of post trial motions
  Findings of Fact/Conclusions of Law not required
  Judgment not entered, instead releases and stipulations are exchanged
  Pre-marked exhibits, medical records, reports, photos, diagrams, etc. can be submitted directly to jury.
  Any evidence, trial notebook, etc. to be submitted to jury must be exchanged 30 days in advance or it is precluded.
  Evidentiary hearing held 10 days before trial to resolve objections, redactions and any other pre-trial issues.
  Medical records need not be certified or affirmed
  Video live/pre-recorded testimony permitted
  Similar in various respects to the NJI program

General Procedure:

  Abbreviated jury selection
  10 minute opening and closing for each side
  One hour for case presentation and cross examination by each side
  Modified jury charges
  Record can be waived if all sides agree

THE SUMMARY JURY TRIAL PROCESS:

BRONX RULES AND PROCEDURE

As Amended 12/9/09

A. Nature of the Binding Summary Jury Trial:

A summary jury trial is generally a one-day jury trial with relaxed rules of evidence similar to arbitration except that a jury decides factual issues and renders a verdict as a jury would in a traditional trial. The parties may agree on the mode and

method of presentation. In the absence of agreement of counsel and approved by the trial court, the process and rules that follow shall apply.

1. Consent of Parties:

The signatories to the Transfer Agreement represent that they have the authority of their respective clients and/or insurance carriers to enter into the agreement and such agreement shall be irrevocably binding upon their respective principals.

2. Stipulation:

If the parties agree to a summary jury trial, a written stipulation shall be signed by the attorneys reciting any high/low parameters and the agreement waiving any rights to appeal. The high and low parameters of summary jury trial, if any, shall

not be disclosed to the jury.

3. No Right to Appeal:

The parties agree to waive costs and disbursements and further agree to waive the right to appeal from the determination of this matter. Written Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law shall not be required. Following the determination, the

parties shall not enter judgment but shall instead exchange General Releases and Stipulations of Discontinuance.

4. Scheduling:

Summary jury trials will be placed on the calendar for trial at the earliest possible date available in the Summary Jury Trial Part. Once said date is assigned it shall be considered a date certain.

5. Pre-trial submissions:

a) Any party intending to offer documentary evidence upon trial, including but not limited to accident reports, medical records and lost income records, shall serve copies of such documentary evidence upon all parties not less than 30 days before trial, except that it shall not be necessary to serve any previously exchanged Examination Before Trial transcripts.

 

b) No later than 10 days before trial the SJT Judge or Judicial Hearing Officer assigned to the case shall conduct an evidentiary hearing at which time objections to any documentary evidence previously submitted as provided for herein shall be determined and witness lists shall be exchanged. Objections will also be heard concerning live expert testimony at this time otherwise they are waived. If there is no objection at said time, counsel shall so stipulate in writing. Failure to serve such documentary evidence as required shall result in preclusion of that evidence at the time of trial.

 

c) Reference to PJI sections shall be sufficient on requests to charge. Requests to Charge that deviate from the standard Pattern Jury Instructions should be submitted prior to trial.

6. Record:

A summary jury trial will be recorded by a court reporter unless waived by all parties.

7. Existing Offer and Demand:

The parties may stipulate that the pre-trial offer and demand remain unaltered through the binding summary jury trial. Either party may elect to accept the last settlement proposal of the opponent at any time before the verdict is announced by the jury.

8. Jury Selection:

By counsel with strict time limits or the Court and counsel. If the Court conducts the voir dire each side shall nonetheless have 10 minutes each to also voir dire the jury. Summary juries shall consist of no less than six jurors and one alternate unless the parties stipulate to fewer jurors. The Court shall allow each side two peremptory challenges.

9. Time Limits:

Each side shall be entitled to a ten minute opening and closing and one hour for presentation of its case. The Court may allot more time to a party to insure full exploration of the issues provided counsel presents a compelling reason to support

the request for additional time. Unless the Judge or Judicial Hearing Officer directs otherwise, the court clerk should keep track of the time and remind counsel of the status of allotted time at appropriate intervals.

10. Rules of Evidence:

General

a) Parties may offer relevant and material evidence to the dispute. The rules of evidence shall be relaxed subject to any determination at the evidentiary hearing.

Depositions

b) Examination Before Trial testimony of a party may be offered by any opposing party, however a party shall not be permitted to offer his/her own Examination Before Trial testimony except as provided by the CPLR. This section shall apply to video depositions as well.

 

c) In the event a party wishes to offer the testimony of a non-party eyewitness such testimony can only be offered by the non-party Examination Before Trial testimony of such witness taken pursuant to the notice requirements of the CPLR or by producing that witness at trial.

Loss of Income Documentary Evidence

d) Past and future lost income may be proved by the submission of documentary evidence from the plaintiffs’ employer, including but not limited to pay stubs, tax returns, W-2 and/or 1099 forms provided that such amounts may be calculated with a reasonable degree of mathematical certainty based solely upon present income and life expectancy. Any claim of future lost earnings premised upon inflation, lost opportunity, promotion, career advancement, or similar theory shall only

be proved by expert testimony or the report of an expert previously exchanged pursuant to these rules.

Live Testimony

e) None of the foregoing shall be construed to prevent a party from calling witnesses upon trial. Live video testimony shall be permitted. In the event a party intends to call an expert witness, medical or otherwise, that party must provide written notice to all parties of such witness, along with a copy of that medical expert’s narrative report(s), not less than 20 days before

trial. In the event of a non-medical expert counsel shall comply with the standard provisions of the CPLR 3101(d)(1)(i) concerning non-medical experts. Failure to comply with this provision shall result in the preclusion of such expert witness at the time of trial.

Documentary Evidence

f) The following shall also be admissible, Police Reports, the MV104 of any party; medical Records including but not limited to hospital records, ambulance records; medical records and/or reports from plaintiff’s medical providers, defendant doctor reports inclusive of No Fault medical exam reports; diagnostic test results including but not limited to X-rays, MRI, CT scan and EMG reports, or any other graphic, numerical, symbolic, or pictorial representation of medical or diagnostic procedure or test of plaintiff. Expert reports, medical or otherwise, shall be admissible providing same was exchanged during the period for pretrial submissions pursuant to Rule 5a. Documentary medical evidence shall not be limited to treating medical providers. Any stipulated evidence shall also be admitted.

 

g) There shall be no requirement that any record referred to in paragraph “d” or “f” be certified, affirmed or sworn to.

 

h) Pre-trial evidentiary issues normally determined by the trial Judge or Judicial Hearing Officer, such as motions in limine and redaction of documentary evidence, shall be determined in conformance with the applicable rules of evidence by the Trial Judge or Judicial Hearing Officer at the evidentiary hearing and in accordance with the rules as provided for in paragraphs 5 and 10 a) through 10 g) herein. Any objections to be raised at said hearing shall in writing and served on opposing counsel no less than 5 days in advance of said hearing.

 

i) The Judge or Judicial Hearing Officer shall, where required, issue “So Ordered” subpoenas to secure the attendance of witnesses or the production of documents as may be requested by any party.

11. Case Presentation:

a) Counsel may present summaries of evidence, factual allegations, inferences from discovery. Counsel may use photographs, diagrams, power point presentations, overhead projectors, trial notebooks all of which can be submitted to the jury, or any other innovative method of presentation.

 

b) Anything which is to be submitted to the jury as part of the presentation of the case must be exchanged with opposing counsel within the conformity of the rules concerning the presentation of case and pre-trial submissions. Nonetheless counsel shall not refer to or introduce evidence which would not be admissible at trial other than as previously stated. Counsel are encouraged to stipulate to factual and evidentiary matters to the greatest extent possible.

c) No more than two witnesses for each side may be called for direct and cross-examination. On application of a party and good cause shown, the court may allow an increase in the number of witnesses. Plaintiff proceeds first. Plaintiff may be granted a ten (10) minute rebuttal following defendant’s presentation. Time spent by counsel on direct and cross examinations counts against their allotted time unless the court directs otherwise.

d) Counsel may stipulate evidence to be submitted.

e) Jurors shall be allowed to take notes upon consent of all parties. Jurors will be permitted to propose questions to be asked of the attorneys. The questions must be presented in writing to the court for approval.

12. Jury Verdict:

Upon by request by the jury, the Court shall give the jury a written copy of the jury charge for use during deliberations. Five out of six jurors must agree on the verdict. The verdict is to be binding as rendered or limited by a high/low stipulation. The jurors may bring into the jury room their notes, any trial notebooks, exhibits, presentations, etc. that may have been presented during the trial.

13. No Directed Verdicts:

Parties agree to waive any motions for directed verdicts as well as any motions to set aside or change the verdict or any judgment rendered by said jury. The Court shall not set aside any verdict or any judgment entered thereon, nor shall it direct that judgment be entered in favor a party entitled to judgment as a matter of law, nor shall it order a new trial as to any issues where the verdict is alleged to be contrary to the weight of the evidence .

14. Inconsistent Verdicts:

In the case of inconsistent verdicts, the trial Judge or Judicial Hearing Officer shall question and charge the jury as appropriate to resolve any inconsistency in said verdict.

15. Infant Plaintiff:

In a summary jury trial involving an infant, the Court must approve any high/low parameters prior to trial.