California has adopted on a test basis, a new optional mini-trial procedure in civil cases where the parties agree to it.  The new procedure, if agreed by the parties in a civil case, would provide for a jury of 8 or fewer members, with no alternates; a limit of 3 peremptory challenges for each side; and a limit of 3 hours for each side to present its case.  In so choosing, the parties would also waive any rights of appeal, except in the very limited circumstances of judicial or jury misconduct, or corruption, fraud, or other undue means which prevent a fair trial.  The new law also allows the parties in such a mini-trial to have an enforceable “high-low agreement” whereby the parties may agree in advance to outer limits on the range of enforceable outcomes from trial.  As such, the new “Expedited Jury Trials Act” may provide a manageable alternative to full court trials or private arbitration, in resolving cases where the parties can agree to a smaller scale and faster endpoint.  (AB 2284, adds new Civil Code secs. 630.01-.12, as a test through 2015.)

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