California: Expedited Jury Trials Act
In September 2010, the California legislature passed the Expedited Jury Trials Act, authorizing the California Judicial Council to establish a program under which parties could stipulate to a jury trial of eight or fewer jurors, a limit of three peremptory challenges per side, and a limit of three hours for each side to present its case. Parties participating in the pilot are required to waive all rights to appeal, to move for a directed verdict or to make any post-trial motions.
The program originally was set to expire January 1, 2016. In 2015 the legislature passed Assembly Bill No. 555 and made the voluntary program permanent, with limited changes, including expanding the time limit for trial per party from three to five hours. The legislature also made expedited jury trials mandatory in limited civil cases, where the amount in controversy does not exceed $25,000. The procedures for the mandatory expedited trial are similar to those for the voluntary program, with the exception that verdicts are appealable. In addition, the number of permitted peremptory challenges per side is increased from three to four. There are nine permitted exceptions to the expedited trial requirement which allow either party to opt-out of the process.
The provisions are in effect until July 1, 2019, unless extended by the legislature.