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Journal Article

The Background of the Seventh Amendment

Edith Guild Henderson
Harvard Law Review
Vol. 80, No. 2 (Dec., 1966), pp. 289-337
DOI: 10.2307/1339319
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1339319
Page Count: 49

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Topics: Juries, Verdicts, Legal evidence, Trial de novo, Criminals, Libel, Defendants, Judges, Civil actions, Trials
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The Background of the Seventh Amendment
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Abstract

Part of the controversy over amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure has centered on the problem of jury power. Justices Black and Douglas have dissented from many changes - notably those expanding the province of the judge in the summary judgment, judgment n. o. v., and new trial areas - on the ground that such a reduction of the power of the civil jury violates the seventh amendment. They rely heavily for support on eighteenth-century English and Colonial practice. Miss Henderson shows in this article that their reliance is misplaced. By a careful study of all the available material, English and American, civil and criminal, she finds that the amendment was not intended to codify a rigid form of jury practice - that indeed there was no consistent practice in 1790 to be codified.

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