JURY TRIALS FOR LANDLORD TENANT ISSUES
Unfortunately, there are times when landlord tenant disputes occur that need to be adjudicated. These could be issues like nonpayment of rent OR tenant causing disturbance to other tenants (typically loud noise) OR landlord not carrying out necessary maintenance, etc.
- Historically, in Los Angeles these matters have promptly gone to a speedy trial and settled in a couple of hours by a judge. The cost to the three parties – being the tenant – the landlord and the city/county has been expensive but reasonable.
- As it happens, the city of Los Angeles and or state of California have a provision allowing a full on jury trial even for the most simplistic cases that have the most obvious outcome.
- Most cities or states have a provision for arbitration or tribunal process for settling landlord / tenant disputes which is adjudicated by a qualified judge or judge pro tem in an informal setting with all parties telling their side of the story and represented by attorneys if desired.
- This arbitration is speedy, inexpensive for both tenant and landlord and does not tie up a courtroom with a judge and all his staff and a 12 person jury for several days thus saving the city/county the great expense of a trial.
- The major advantage o f arbitration is that it relieves the case log on an already overburdened and backlogged legal system that is costing the city and county way too much in a time of recession.
- Now – in Los Angeles – Tenants who are looking for means to delay what could be a relatively speedy trial with only a judge, are demanding a jury trial so as to cause delays for the purpose of prolonging their stay in their apartment when the cause for eviction may well be something of their own making like creating noise and nuisance to other tenants or nonpayment of rent.
- It does not take twelve jurors going through several days of jury selection and several days of listening to testimony and legal maneuverings to reach an obvious conclusion that should have been settled in a matter of hours.
- The result of this delaying maneuver is to bog down the court system at a time when court rooms are being closed due to budget shortfalls.
- The tenant gets to stay in their apartment for a couple of more months thus saving a few thousand dollars while the city is out of pocket for typically a one week trial using the resources of judge, court clerk and bailiff costing the city probably about $50,000.
- This is not to mention 12 jurors who are very frustrated at having to give up a week of their time over something that should have been decided by one person in a matter of hours. No wonder people are refusing to do jury duty when their time is so wasted.
- It is imperative that drastic reform be instituted as soon as possible so as to streamline the landlord – tenant legal process. The already beleaguered legal system should be used for the smooth and speedy trials of major business and civil issues and criminal law enforcement that make for an efficiently run and safe city.