Strandell v. Jackson County, Illinois

838 F.2d 884 (7th Cir. 1987)


  • ¶s’ son was arrested, strip searched, imprisoned and later committed suicide.

Procedural History:

  • ¶s brought a civil rights action
  • Judge suggested nonbinding summary jury trial
  • ¶ objected, overruled and ordered to appear
  • At jury selection, ¶‘s attorney (Tobin) refused to proceed, and held in contempt
  • Later held in criminal contempt, Tobin appeals

Criminal contempt charge vacated


Whether a federal district court can require litigants to participate in a nonbinding summary jury trial.


A federal district court cannot require litigants to participate in a nonbinding summary jury trial because this does not fall within the parameters of Rule 16.

Rule(s) of Law:

Rule 16

28 USC §652


“In our view, while the pretrial conference of Rule 16 was intended to foster settlement through the use of extrajudicial procedures, it was not intended to require that an unwilling litigant be sidetracked from the normal course of litigation.”

“The use of a mandatory summary jury trial as a pretrial settlement device would also affect seriously the well-established rules concerning discovery and work-product privilege. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(3); see also Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 67 S.Ct. 385, 91 L.Ed. 451 (1947). These rules reflect a carefully-crafted balance between the needs for pretrial disclosure and party confidentiality. Yet, a compelled summary jury trial could easily upset that balance by requiring disclosure of information obtainable, if at all, through the mandated discovery process.”

New Information, questions, etc:

Nonbinding summary jury trial: attorneys summarize their case before a jury that renders a nonbinding verdict.

Many courts do not follow this, and compelled summary trials are allowed in many jurisdictions.