Did your Tenant Demand a Jury Trial in a California Unlawful Detainer Eviction Case? Unfortunately, if your tenant meets certain requirements, they will have the right to a jury trial, even if your rental agreement says otherwise!
Section 16 of Article 1 of the California Constitution states that the right to a jury trial shall be preserved to the parties inviolate. The party demanding a jury trial in the unlawful detainer eviction case must deposit with the court a fee of $150. This fee can be waived if the party qualifies for a fee waiver.
California Code of Civil Procedure 631(f) describes circumstances in which a party will have waived their right to a jury trial. These include:
- By failing to appear at the trial.
- By written consent filed with the clerk or judge.
- By oral consent, in open court, entered in the minutes.
- By failing to announce that a jury is required, at the time the cause is first set for trial, if it is set upon notice or stipulation, or within five days after notice of setting if it is set without notice or stipulation.
- By failing to pay the fee on time.
There are several aggressive tenant law firms in California, especially in Los Angeles county and the bay area that will automatically demand a jury trial and will file and serve their jury demand at the beginning of the case, at the same time they file their Answer. This is unfortunate for California landlords, but it is something the aggressive tenant law firm will do in almost every single unlawful detainer case because they know a jury trial will cost the landlord a lot of money and there is uncertainty that goes with a big trial. These tenant firms hope that the looming jury trial will cause a better settlement, meaning more money paid to the tenant to get them to move out. Interestingly, when these tenant firms demand a jury trial, they often couple it with a settlement offer of several thousand dollars, even when the tenant owes the landlord thousands of dollars in past-due rent.
The Law Office of David Piotrowski has success in winning eviction jury trials on behalf of the landlord. If you need help with an eviction in Southern California, contact us today. We represent landlords in eviction cases, including jury trials. Don’t try to handle a jury trial yourself as a landlord. They are not easy.
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