The topic for this Constitution Monday comes from the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: “In Suits at common law … no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.” This means that no changes can be made once the jury has made and reported their decision.
W. Cleon Skousen explained that “no judge of a trial court can substitute his opinion of the facts for that of the jury, nor can an appellate court set aside the jury’s findings and make a final order on its own.
“In case of a mistrial, the court may order a hearing before another jury, or a new trial can be ordered by an appellate court if there was an error of law committed by the trial court.” (See “The Making of America – The Meaning and Substance of the Constitution, p. 710.)
David F. Forte of The Heritage Foundation explained the Reexamination Clause: “The principle that juries determine questions of fact is a fundamental underpinning of our legal system. The Seventh Amendment was drafted in response to complaints raised during the ratification process that the Constitution failed to protect the institution of the civil jury. The Reexamination Clause, in particular, answered the chorus of objections in the ratifying conventions that the Supreme Court’s appellate power `both as to Law and Fact’ would effectively abolish the civil jury by allowing the Supreme Court to retry facts on appeal. It is for this reason that Justice Joseph Story characterized the Reexamination Clause as `more important’ than the initial phrase of the amendment guaranteeing juries in civil trials….” (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 361.)