Elder financial abuse cases often involve some issues that rightly rest with consideration and adjudication in California probate courts. Other issues concerning exploitation of our senior citizens, meanwhile, should be tried by a jury in the civil division of the Superior Court. US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts tells us that the jury is "vital in promoting justice" based on "common sense and judgment of the people drawn from the community."
As California probate attorneys often engaged in litigation, we find that our clients desire to tell their story of elder financial abuse to a jury drawn from the community - from their peers. This wish frequently outweighs the desire to have a single source of judgment - a trial judge. This right - accorded to every citizen - should not be easily waived without a careful, considered weighing of the advantages and disadvantages of a jury.
Trial by jury is a given right guaranteed by our Constitution. Juries "are more representative institutions than is the judiciary; they reflect more accurately the composition and experiences of the community as a whole, and inevitably make decisions based on community values more reliably, than can that segment of the community that is selected for service on the bench." Schriro v Summerlin, 542 U.S. 348, 360 (2004) (Breyer, J. dissenting (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Elder financial abuse is a serious crime, but it can also be prosecuted civilly. The offenses often encompassed within elder abuse - everything from neglect and physical attacks to fraud, isolation, manipulation and undue influence - are considered damages that demand recovery in civil court, often by decision of a jury. Financial predators and perpetrators of elder abuse must be held accountable for their wrongdoing.
Many probate litigators shy away from jury trials - Hackard Law is comfortable and experienced with pursuing bad actors who commit elder abuse, bringing them to justice through trial by jury. Hackard Law's litigation team is well-versed in the procedures applicable to probate and civil trials. Having the ability to seek the input of the "composition and experiences of the community as a whole" is a cherished right in promoting justice and recovery for the victims of financial elder abuse.