Sunday, November 24, 2013

Strandell v. Jackson County, Illinois case brief

Strandell v. Jackson County, Illinois case brief summary
838 F.2d 884 (7th Cir. 1987)

Plaintiffs, parents of deceased inmate, filed suit against defendants, county jail and others, for claims related to the suicide of the inmate. Plaintiffs' attorney appealed from a judgment of criminal contempt entered by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois for refusing to participate in a nonbinding summary jury trial.

The attorney was ordered by the district court to participate in a nonbinding jury trial, which was a settlement device whereby the attorneys summarized their case before a jury, which then rendered a nonbinding verdict. The district court cited Fed. R. Civ. P. 16 as authority for the order.


  • On appeal, the court vacated the criminal contempt order, holding that Rule 16 did not permit the district court to compel parties to participate in summary jury trials. 
  • The rule was not designed as a means of clubbing the parties into an involuntary settlement.
The criminal contempt judgment against plaintiffs' attorney was vacated.

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