Courts in Which the Guarantee Applies

Courts in Which the Guarantee Applies.—The Amendment governs only courts which sit under the authority of the United States,16 including courts in the territories17 and the District of Columbia,18 and does not apply generally to state courts.19 But when a state court is enforcing a federally created right, of which the right to trial by jury is a substantial part, the States may not eliminate trial by jury as to one or more elements.20 Ordinarily, a federal court enforcing a state-created right will follow its own rules with regard to the allocation of functions between judge and jury, a rule the Court based on the "interests" of the federal court system, eschewing reliance on the Seventh Amendment but noting its influence.21 Where the "interests" of the state and federal systems can be reconciled, however, a court should endeavor to implement the rules of the state courts.22

16 Pearson v. Yewdall, 95 U.S. 294, 296 (1877); Edwards v. Elliott, 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 532, 557 (1874); The Justices v. Murray, 76 U.S. (9 Wall.) 274, 277 (1870); Walker v. Sauvinet, 92 U.S. 90 (1876); St. Louis & K.C. Land Co. v. Kansas City, 241 U.S. 419 (1916).

17 Webster v. Reid, 52 U.S. (11 How.) 437, 460 (1851); Kennon v. Gilmer, 131 U.S. 22, 28 (1889).

18 Capital Traction Co. v. Hof, 174 U.S. 1, 5 (1899).

19 Minneapolis & St. Louis R.R. v. Bombolis, 241 U.S. 211 (1916). See also Melancon v. McKeithen, 345 F. Supp. 105 (E.D.La.) (three-judge court), aff'd. per curiam, 409 U.S. 943 (1972); Alexander v. Virginia, 413 U.S. 836 (1973).

20 Dice v. Akron, C. & Y. R.R., 342 U.S. 359 (1952). Four dissenters contended that the ruling was contrary to the unanimous decision in Bombolis.

21 Byrd v. Blue Ridge Rural Elec. Coop., 356 U.S. 525 (1958) (citing Herron v. Southern Pacific Co., 283 U.S. 91 (1931)).

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