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Don’t Miss the New Due Date for Jury Fee Deposits in California – CCP 631(b)

In California, trial attorneys and their clients should be aware that there was recently a change in the law regarding the deadlines for filing  jury fees to preserve the right to have a jury trial.  Effective September 17, 2002, California Code of Civil Procedure section 631(B) began to impose a new deadline for a party to file its $150 jury fee deposit.

The old rule required, in general civil matters, that the fee be filed at least 25 calendar days before trial.  The new rule, however, now requires that,  for new matters, the parties must file their  initial jury fee deposit ” on or before the date scheduled for the initial case management conference in the action.”  This is important because the case management conference generally occurs about 3 to 4 months into the case and often nearly a year before trial.  That means that the deadline to file the jury fee deposits has been advanced from the end of the lifespan of the case to the beginning of the case.

If for some reason, a party has missed the deadline during the recent enactment of this new rule, the problem appears to be fixable for the rest of 2012.  CCP 631(d) provides ” if a party failed to timely pay the fee described in subdivision (b) that was due between June 27, 2012, and November 30, 2012, the party will be relieved of a jury waiver on that basis only if the party pays the fee on or before December 31, 2012, or 25 calendar days before the date initially set for trial, whichever is earlier.”  In other words, if anyone missed the deadline this year, then as long as the jury fee deposit is filed with the court by no later than December 31, 2012 the party will not have waived their right to a jury trial.

At Schorr Law, we have experience trying jury trials and like them.  Accordingly, we like to preserve this option for our clients.  For more information, or for a free consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us at 310-954-1877, info@schorr-law.com.

Here is the text of the relevant portions of Civil Code section 631:

(a) The right to a trial by jury as declared by Section 16 of Article I of the California Constitution shall be preserved to the parties inviolate. In civil cases, a jury may only be waived pursuant to subdivision (f).

(b) At least one party demanding a jury on each side of a civil case shall pay a nonrefundable fee of one hundred fifty dollars ($150), unless the fee has been paid by another party on the same side of the case. The fee shall offset the costs to the state of providing juries in civil cases. If there are more than two parties to the case, for purposes of this section only, all plaintiffs shall be considered one side of the case, and all other parties shall be considered the other side of the case. Payment of the fee by a party on one side of the case shall not relieve parties on the other side of the case from waiver pursuant to subdivision (f).

(c) The fee described in subdivision (b) shall be due on or before the date scheduled for the initial case management conference in the action, except as follows:

(1) In unlawful detainer actions, the fees shall be due at least five days before the date set for trial.

(2) If no case management conference is scheduled in a civil action, or the initial case management conference occurred before June 28, 2012, and the initial complaint was filed on or after July 1, 2011, the fee shall be due no later than 365 calendar days after the filing of the initial complaint.

(3) If the initial case management conference occurred before June 28, 2012, and the initial complaint in the case was filed before July 1, 2011, the fee shall be due at least 25 calendar days before the date initially set for trial.

(4) If the party requesting a jury has not appeared before the initial case management conference, or first appeared more than 365 calendar days after the filing of the initial complaint, the fee shall be due at least 25 calendar days before the date initially set for trial.

(d) If a party failed to timely pay the fee described in subdivision (b) that was due between June 27, 2012, and November 30, 2012, the party will be relieved of a jury waiver on that basis only if the party pays the fee on or before December 31, 2012, or 25 calendar days before the date initially set for trial, whichever is earlier.

(e) The parties demanding a jury trial shall deposit with the clerk or judge, at the beginning of the second and each succeeding day’s session, a sum equal to that day’s fees and mileage of the jury, including the fees and mileage for the trial jury panel if the trial jury has not yet been selected and sworn. If more than one party has demanded a jury, the respective amount to be paid daily by each party demanding a jury shall be determined by stipulation of the parties or by order of the court.

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