When Does it Make Sense to Seek a Bench Trial Rather Than a Jury Trial?

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When Does it Make Sense to Seek a Bench Trial Rather Than a Jury Trial?

If you have a civil lawsuit headed for court, you and the other party can agree to have a judge rather than a jury decide the case. So which is better when it comes to business litigation?

Pros and Cons of Bench Trials

In a bench trial, the judge is the sole decision maker on both the facts of the case and the matters of law and procedure. If you want a speedy resolution to your legal matter, a bench trial typically takes less time since there is no jury selection or instruction process. If your civil matter is unusually complex, a judge is probably better able to understand the nuances than a jury made up of laypersons.

One of the drawbacks of a bench trial is that since the judge is the only finder of fact, there’s no opportunity to convince at least one person on a jury to agree with your side. In addition, judges answer to the electorate or the government since they are either elected or appointed. If the nature of your case is politically controversial, a bench trial may not be the best option.

Pros and Cons of Jury Trials

Thanks to years of television courtroom dramas, most of us have a good idea of how the jury system works. In a jury trial, the jury decides on the facts of the case while the judge rules on matters of law and procedure.

One of the benefits of a jury trial is that your attorney can more effectively use emotional arguments to persuade the jury to find in your favor. Since civil cases are decided based on the preponderance of evidence as a standard of proof, juries are more likely to respond to a compelling story. And unlike judges, juries do not have to answer to anyone for their verdicts.

However, if your case is complicated, a jury may not understand some of the more nuanced points that shore up your claim. In addition, they may ignore the judge’s instruction and make a decision based on subjective rather than legal factors.

When choosing an attorney to represent you in your civil suit, it is important that you pick an experienced business litigator who can evaluate your case and recommend a trial strategy that will provide you with the best possible outcome.

When you are facing any type of business dispute, you need an experienced Arizona trial attorney to obtain the best possible result. Contact Williams Mestaz, L.L.P., at (602) 256-9400 to speak with us about your case.

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