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Recently I saw an ad for a new reality TV show on FOX called "You the Jury".

On Thursday, the network announced "You the Jury," a new prime-time, unscripted reality show that allows the audience to render a verdict in a civil case.

Can this be real? Where anonymous people decide someone's fate in a civil case.

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Civil cases are frequently decided by arbitration (a non-court process), so there's nothing particularly problematic here. Both parties have to agree to participate in the process, and one may (but need not) assume that there is a clause that the losing party has to live with the outcome. Odds are good that the parties are paid to participate, so there would be incentive to accept the verdict. One difference between this show (apparently) and a normal binding arbitration clause is that with the latter, this is part of the original contract which would state that all disputes must be resolved by such-and-such arbitration firm. Such verdicts are generally enforceable, unless there is some extreme impropriety (e.g. the defendant bribes the arbitration firm to flagrantly overlook the law). In the present case, torts as well as contracts can be the subject of a show, and the arbitration agreement would be separate from and after any underlying contract. A lot depends on the agreement that the show has participants sign. The Facebook-jury would, of course, not pass any form of scrutiny in a real court. So it is possible that afterwards, an unhappy party can press the case in real court, without prejudice.

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Sure, why not?

They can render as many unenforceable verdicts as they like. Mick trials have a very long history.

It's "reality TV" - it's not "real".

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They can, and it can even be enforceable - but remember (a) its not a real court and (b) a lot of what is seen will probably be staged.

I've not seen this show, but by way of analogy, look at "Judge Judy". The cases may be real, the people may be real, the rulings may be final, BUT NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS. For a start, the people are paid to be there, the court is not actually a court, its Arbitration and, to me the funniest part - The studio pays all judgments - which means when JJ goes hard on how bad someone is and makes them pay to teach them a lesson - its actually the studio that pays. (There are also strict limits of the maximum amount).

Extrapolating out - I believe that these cases will be a "Guilty/Not Guilty" answer, rather then setting a judgment amount, and the parties will most likely have agreed - prior to the show - to accept the verdict as binding - probably for some compensation. Expect it to look real but be smoke and mirrors. If its anything like Judge Judy, record and read the credits at the end - In the case of Judge Judy it actually tells you how you are being scammed/entertained!

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