Justice Daniel Venters raises some interesting questions in his Bench & Bar article, Will Common Law Stagnate In an Era of Declining Trials?, while reporting the staggering decline in the number of jury trials held in Kentucky's courtrooms:
- in 2002, 404 civil jury trials were held; in 2016, there were 93 civil jury trials
- in 2002, 2063 bench trials were conducted; in 2016 only 1,279
Kentucky's appeals court have seen concomitant declines:
- in 1997, 1,662 civil appeals were filed in the Court of Appeals; in 2016, only 1,275
- in the decade 1997-2006, the Kentucky Supreme Court granted discretionary review in 849 cases (84.9 per year), rendered full opinions in 3,059 cases (305.9 per year)
- by contrast in the decade 2007-2016, the Court granted discretionary review in in 764 cases, and rendered full opinions in only 2,226 cases.
I don't really have a good explanation for this, although part of it is that the litigation process especially for individuals can seem eternal to the point that it renders pursuing a full remedy not truly feasible or sensible. By this I mean: there is true value in settling and concluding a case and moving on with their lives, rather than have it chained to them for another three to five years.