Cook County Judge William Gomolinski ruled that the language in the Illinois Constitution, Section 1, Article 13, “The right to trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate,” prevails and thus the law adopted for 6-person juries is unconstitutional. What the judge wrote in his opinion was that the right to a jury as it existed in 1970, with 12 jurors, cannot be changed without a constitutional amendment. That does not mean that the parties, should they agree, could not limit the jury size to a smaller number. However, litigants — according to Judge Gomolinski’s opinion — have a constitutional right to demand a 12-person jury in their cases.
The change to the Illinois jury system was proposed and passed during the last days of former Gov. Patrick J. Quinn’s second term in office. The law went into effect June 1, 2015.
In this particular case, a medical-malpractice case filed in Cook County on June 30, 2015, the defense counsel filed an appearance on behalf of his defendant clients, a doctor and a neurosurgery professional corporation, and requested a 12-person jury. A motion was filed for leave to file a 12-person jury demand with the court. The motion was assigned by the presiding judge in the law division to Judge Gomolinski. The opinion of Judge Gomolinski referred to the 1870 Illinois constitutional convention when a 12-person jury was a given right although the parties as now could waive their rights to a 12-person jury if they agreed on a smaller jury size.