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Notes from Hunter Creek- The Seventh Amendment

By Roger Wall

This Amendment which is seldomly discussed or litigated reads as follows:  

“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 heard by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the U.S., then according to the rules of common law.”

This Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights for one reason –– to ensure that all major disputes involving monetary damages would be heard fairly by the federal courts with a jury.  All citizens of the new country would have unfettered access to the nation’s newly established legal system. 

Today, although each state now has their own well established court system, a litigant, if they so desire, can still be assured of federal court access, under the rules of “Diversity of Citizenship”.   

Under this rule, if one litigant is from one state, and the other litigant is from another state, and if the momentary demand exceeds, I believe it is now $50,000.00 or more, you have federal jurisdiction. 

However, an important caveat exists. Because the federal district courts are under a lot of litigious pressure, a federal judge if requested or by motion, may refer the case to one of the two states involved as a more “proper and convenient forum.”  This frequently happens nowadays.    

Now get up and go enjoy our beautiful Ozarks outdoors!