A summary jury trial takes place in a courtroom before a judge and a jury, and is held after the parties have completed their discovery of the other side's evidence. In most cases, each side has 30 minutes to present a summary of its evidence to the jury, and 15 minutes to make a closing argument. However, subject to the approval of the presiding Judge, the parties may agree to modify these time periods. There is no live testimony or cross-examination of witnesses.
After deliberating, the jury renders a verdict. The verdict is non-binding, unless the parties agree in advance of the trial that the verdict is to be binding. At the conclusion of the proceeding, the judge will remain available to meet with counsel or the parties to discuss his or her impressions of the case and to assist in settlement discussions if the parties desire.
The summary jury trial is designed as a judicially administered settlement procedure. It has been specifically permitted in Mecklenburg County by authorization of the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The judges who participate in this procedure expect that the time of the jury will not be used as a mere "shadow verdict".
Frequently Asked Questions about Summary Jury Trials.