COA: Party's Failure to Object to Rigorous Trial Schedule Does Not Preclude The Granting Of A New Trial
Plaintiff sought damages from Defendants based on their alleged negligence. The parties' attorneys told the trial court that the trial would take at least seven days. Friday of that week was the 4th of July holiday, and the judge told the parties he wanted to finish the trial before the 4th of July. The trial ran until the late evening hours of that week and commenced early the following mornings. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants, and Plaintiff moved for a new trial based on the “marathon trial schedule” and its impact upon jurors and lawyers. The trial court gave Plaintiff a new trial.
The COA held that the trial court has "traditional and inherent discretionary power" to grant new a new trial "when the ends of justice will be served," and the trial court did not abuse this discretion. Plaintiff's failure to object to the trial schedule did not prevent the trial court from granting a new trial or constitute invited error. Noting that the trial court "unilaterally imposed" the trial schedule after receiving no encouragement from the parties and a request that the trial take 7 days, the COA concluded that the rigorous trial could not be the result of any error invited by Plaintiff.