The Seventh Amendment Of The United States Constitution
by Bret Schnitzer
The Seventh Amendment States:
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
The First Ten Amendments in the United States Constitution are known as the Bill Of Rights. One of the most important of all of the Bill of Rights is the Seventh Amendment.
The Framers of the United States Constitution intended to preserve the trial by jury as a check on potential abuse of power by the government. John Adams explains:
As the Constitution requires that the popular branch of the legislature should have an absolute check, so as to put a peremptory negative upon every act of the government, it requires that the common people, should have as complete a control, as decisive a negative, in every judgment of a court of judicature.
Uncertainty in the law is a serious problem, insofar as the published precedent of courts in a common law system is supposed to constitute “a clear guide for the conduct of individuals, to enable them to plan their affairs with assurance against untoward surprise. But whereas a runaway jury poses a clear and present danger to that reliance interest, a runaway judge can pose an even greater peril.
As Thomas Jefferson explained: that
[w]e all know that permanent judges acquire an esprit de corps; that, being known, they are liable to be tempted by bribery; that they are misled by favor, by relationship, by a spirit of party, by a devotion to the executive or legislative; that it is better to leave a cause to the decision of cross and pile than to that of a judge biased to one side; and that the opinion of twelve honest jurymen gives still a better hope of right than cross and pile does. It is left therefore, to the juries, if they think the permanent judges are under any bias whatever in any cause, to take on themselves to judge the law as well as the fact. They never exercise this power but when they suspect partiality in the judges; and by the exercise of this power they have been the firmest bulwarks of English liberty.
Whereas colonial judges routinely instructed jurors that they were the ultimate arbiters of both fact and law,the modern judge asserts almost an plenary control over the evidence, law, and facts, instructing the jury as to what the law is and may overturn decisions in favor of the defense.