10 February 2004

Waivers of Jury Trials By Contract

… appear to be unenforceable under the California constitution (PDF, 139kb). At least according to one California court of appeals. The interesting question that this raises is whether the California constitution can potentially overrule the Federal Arbitration Act, which is another form of "waiver" of a jury trial. Ordinarily, the knee-jerk reaction is to say "absolutely not under the Supremacy Clause in Article V." But… there is a long line of decisions that indicates that states may choose to provide greater rights to citizens than afforded in the US Constitution, particularly when those rights are essentially procedural in nature. Hmm. I smell a law review article here. How about it, Professor Gorman? See Robert A. Gorman, The Gilmer Decision and the Private Arbitration of Public-Law Disputes, 1995 U. Ill. L. Rev. 635 (edited by me).