Suppose that a state statute requires that all civil lawsuits involving damages of less than $50,000 be arbitrated and that the case could be tried in court only if a party was dissatisfied with the arbitrator’s decision. Suppose further that the statute also provides that if a trial does not result in an improvement of more than 10 percent in the position of the party who demanded the trial, that party must pay the costs of the arbitration proceeding. Would such a statute violate litigant’s rights of access to the courts and to trial by jury? Would it matter if the statute was part of a pilot program an affected only a few judicial districts in the state?
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