California Eviction Law
Jury vs. Non-Jury Trials
The parties to an unlawful detainer lawsuit have the right to a jury trial, and either party can request one. When your Unlawful Detainer Complaint is filed with the Superior Court, you have the option of requesting a jury trial or a non-jury trial. A non-jury trial is referred to as a "bench trial" and a judge will preside over the proceedings. In deciding to choose a non-jury trial, you are giving up your right to a jury trial. The court will then send the parties a document called a Memorandum to Set Case for Trial (called an "At-Issue Memorandum" or a "Memo to Set" in some counties). This document will provide notice to your tenant(s) informing them of whether you have requested a jury trial.
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Most unlawful detainer cases use the "bench trial" method.
Most unlawful detainer cases are tried using the "bench trial" method. There are several good reasons for this: first, presenting a case to a jury is more complex than presenting a case to a judge, and a nonlawyer representing himself or herself may find it very difficult; second, the party requesting a jury trial will be responsible for depositing the initial cost of jury fees with the court; and third, the losing party will have to pay all of the jury costs.