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“Trial by Jury” Under Attack in Virginia

When we introduced the Curcio Law blog last week we promised to highlight current events that we believe effect our clients — positively or negatively.   Unfortunately our first topic discusses pending legislation making it’s way through the VA legislative process, that we believe could adversely effect our fundamental rights as citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia… the right to trial by a jury of our peers in civil cases.

I currently serve on the legislative subcommittee of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (VTLA) and would like to offer some background surrounding this issue.

The founding fathers, several of which were from Virginia and were instrumental in writing the both the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions, wisely and rightly saw a jury trial as the great leveler of the people. They saw a jury as a forum in which the wealthy and poor, the powerful and powerless, the fortunate and unfortunate, would have disputes between them reviewed and decided by a jury of their peers, consisting of people from all backgrounds, social standings, and socio-economic classes.

Fortunately, the Virginia Supreme Court, the highest court in the Commonwealth, has consistently and steadfastly recognized and protected a citizen’s right to a trial by jury in civil disputes.

Unfortunately,  big business, has launched an attack on the jury trial in the current Virginia legislative session.  Operating under the name of the “Virginia Alliance for Tort Reform,” businesses  have introduced bills designed to limit a citizen’s right to trial by jury. One such bill is designed to increase the use of summary judgment in Virginia state court cases. Another  bill further limits a plaintiff’s right to  dismiss (non-suit)   a pending case.

As will be discussed in upcoming blogs, the current limitations on summary judgment are an important part of   our right to trial by jury.  Similarly, the ability to take a non-suit is an important procedure which insures, following a trial by jury, that the verdict, regardless of outcome, can be respected and defended.

In conclusion, the Virginia Alliance for Tort Reform claims that the bills it supports will improve Virginia’s judicial system by lowering its costs, reducing the time for resolution of cases, and making Virginia more business friendly.   I disagree.  Virginia has a very efficient court system now and is already rated very friendly to business. Additionally, Virginia does not have the judicial resources or financial resources needed to handle the additional work that will be caused if these so-called “time-saving” devices are implemented.  In my opinion, the Alliance is simply promoting “solutions” to a non-existent problem.

I would love to hear what you think.   Please feel free to let your voice be heard by adding comments or questions below. by Thomas J. Curcio

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Thomas J. Curcio
Founder

Tom Curcio, the driving force behind Curcio Law, is a dedicated trial lawyer with more than 35 years of experience in Northern Virginia. He has dedicated his career to representing people who have been seriously injured through no fault of their own. He works tirelessly to obtain the compensation his clients are legally entitled to…

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Rakin Hamad
Associate

Rakin Hamad is a recent graduate of the George Mason Law School and joined Curcio Law as an associate in August 2018. Rakin works closely with Tom Curcio and staff in preparing cases from the initial client meeting through trial and has been a perfect fit for the firm. During law school, Rakin interned at…

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Julia Martinez
Paralegal

Julia Martinez, a Florida native, joined Curcio Law as a paralegal in 2013. She began her legal career in 1998 working at a personal injury firm that primarily handled automobile accidents, slip and falls, and products liability cases. Then, in 2008 she expanded her knowledge by working at two other law firms. She obtained her…

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Kathy McAfee
Office Manager

As the firm’s office manager, Kathy McAfee is dedicated to making sure the office runs smoothly and that the team has what it needs by way of resources, technology, and supplies to best serve our clients. Kathy graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from Roanoke College in 1986 and afterward, returned to Alexandria. She began…

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Maureen Burke, RN, MSN
Nurse Consultant

Maureen Burke was born and raised in the Boston, Massachusetts area and relocated to the Alexandria area in 1984 where she and her husband raised their three children. Maureen graduated with a BS in Nursing from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire and an MS in Nursing from George Mason University. Maureen has worked at…

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