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Avoid Problems with Jury Fee Deposits

The procedure and timing for deposit of jury fees in the Superior Court has changed… And courts are getting tough. On June 27, 2012, the state legislature amended Code of Civil Procedure section 631 to require deposit of jury fees before or on the day of the initial case management conference. The fees are nonrefundable. While there are exceptions for a limited period, you should be aware of those exceptions because it is reported that many courts are unfamiliar with the exceptions and are striking jury demands. Of course, the best practice is to lodge you are nonrefundable $150 as soon as you demand the jury.

 

The new Code of Civil Procedure sec. 631 provides in pertinent part:

(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.

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The Office of the California Courts have issued a “Frequently Asked Questions” regarding nonrefundable jury fees. Click here for a link to that document.