Knowing Your Constitutional Rights [7]

Amendment 7

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and 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. (X)

What does this mean?

Well, let's take it into parts.

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars [.]

This means that if there is a disagreement of more than $20...

Let's stop right there in the middle of the sentence & take a dip into the history books:

Why specifically exceeding 20 dollars?

Well, in 1791:

*to clarify in case you skimmed right through that: Currently in America, as of March 2017, you cannot give someone 20 dollars for 20 acres of land like legit what is that a downpayment for a pet chicken.

In 1791, $20 dollars was considered to be a lot of money and the reason for this fixed amount was to ensure that a trial by jury was absolutely necessary.  For example, if there was a contract disagreement of $2 dollars then that's not really a substantial amount to even have a trial by jury because it's such a small amount - the person who didn't receive the $2 didn't really feel THAT much of a loss. 

However if in 1791 there was a disagreement more than 20 dollars that loss would be felt because that 20 dollars = 20 acres of land.

Although $20 in present day is not equivalent to 20 acres of land, it still stands:
Lawsuit more than $20 dollars = trial by jury

However - Under Federal Law: the amount must exceed 75,000 for a case to be heard in Federal Court based on if the people involved are from different states or countries. (X)

BUT civil cases may arise with people from the same country & state and in that case the 20 Dollars Clause applies.(X)

In terms of Lawsuit, it would have to be a civil claim which means you want a money compensation from the person you're suing. An example of civil cases could be Breaching a Contract or Grand Theft Auto. For example - in the case of Grand Theft Auto - the person who stole the car can be sued by the owner of said car. (X)

*Side note: If the victim wanted the court order preventing the person who stole their car to ever come near their property rather than suing for money, then that would be Equity law.*

[T]he right of trial by jury shall be preserved[.]

To complete the second half of the sentence -

 If there is a disagreement of more than $20 dollars = Trial by Jury

It was thought that rather than allowing a judge to have the final say -  a jury of local peers would be more trustworthy and fair.

Why is it essentially FUNDAMENTAL for there to be a jury rather than the decision made only from a judge?

Well, back when America was property of Great Britain, the judges were biased to the King. A factor that fueled the American Revolution was when King George III basically said no more trials with juries for my lil colonies - the word of the judge is all you need xoxo. (X) (X)

Since the ruling of judges wasn't fair due to being bias to the King, it was essential when America gained Independence the right of trial by jury shall be preserved[.]

[A]nd 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 Federal judges cannot overrule a verdict given by a jury - for the most part, the jury's ruling is final.  Also, unlike in the 6th Amendment and mentioned in the 5th Amendment, the jury is made up of 6 individuals and those 6 individuals must be unanimous in their decision (X). (X)

To be clear - this only applies in a civil case (aka receiving money for compensation) not a criminal case (X). 

If they are not unanimous then the court must get a new jury and re-do the trial (You can read in detail all about this point in When a Jury Cannot Reach a Verdict)

The term 'Common Law' = the procedure of courts that used juries (X)

Common Law is modeled after the English Common Law of 1791

What is English Common Law?
When it is decided that the case would have a trial by jury.


To clarify: The 7th Amendment requires a civil jury trial in Federal Courts not State Courts (X)
HOWEVER - majority of states have included the right to have a civil jury (X)

To summarize:

‣ Claim must be a civil claim (not criminal).
‣ Must be in Federal Court (this amendment does not apply to state courts).
‣ Lawsuit must be more than $20.
‣ Consists of a jury of 6 peers.
‣ Lawsuit must be a claim the English Common Law would have allowed for a jury trial.


In what ways has President Trump & his administration done something that pertains to this Amendment:

Nothing at this time.

-If needed this will be updated from time to time.-


If there an Amendment you would like to know more of?
to be taken to a list & choose which one you would like to learn more about.

This is a series that is ongoing - Each Wednesday [ #WednesdayAmendment ] there will be an Amendment Explanation paired with what Trump & his administration have done that pertains to the Amendment discussed.


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