The right to a jury trial in civil cases is expressly protected under both the Iowa and U.S. Constitutions. It is a right that our firm considers critical to the civil justice system, and a right that we have played a role in protecting. In Rieff v. Allied, 672 N.W.2d 728 (Iowa 2003), Brad Brady of our firm argued – and the Supreme Court agreed – that the right to a jury trial is not lost simply because a case (there, a class and derivative action by policyholders against a large insurance company and its officers and directors) is complex.
As noted in the brief we filed with the Iowa Supreme Court, one could say of our system of trial by jury what Winston Churchill said of democracy – “It is the worst except all the others.” It gives every citizen a chance to participate in the development of our system of justice. As the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision in Rieff confirmed, Iowa citizens are not only capable of understanding complex matters, but their commitment to the process “says something noble about our people and our system of justice.”
It is crucial, under this system, that all of us object to every inroad upon a jury’s right, in the collective wisdom of its members, to do justice.