Washington Law Review


In the late 1960s, dockets in federal courts were becoming increasingly crowded, the backlog of criminal cases having more than doubled in the decade 1958-68. One suggestion for relieving pressure on the dockets was reduction of jury size in civil jury trials from 12 to some lesser number. In the absence of a constitutional amendment, however, the seventh amendment appeared to bar such a reduction in jury size. Nevertheless, within the span of a few years the Supreme Court was to announce a series of decisions which eliminated the constitutional significance of the number 12 and permitted the adoption of the 6-member jury. This judicial revolution reached its culmination last Term in Colgrove v. Battin, which eliminated the requirement of a 12-member jury in civil trials in federal courts.

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