Question: Who Is The “13th Juror” in a civil case?
Answer: It Is the trial judge who is basically being asked to determine whether in the minds of reasonable jurors a contrary verdict should have been reached. When a court orders a new trial because the verdict is “against the weight of evidence,” but fails to make the required special findings, the proper remedy is reinstatement of the jury verdict. When asked to determine if a new trial is warranted because the verdict is against the weight of the evidence, the trial judge acts as juror rather “than a mere umpire” and fulfills the judicial role having kept his eyes and ears open to what was going on during the trial in order to pass upon the purely legal questions involved in the case, as well as determine the weight and sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the verdict If the court orders a new trial because the verdict is clearly erroneous or not supported by the evidence (as, for example, when proof is missing altogether on an element of a claim), it must explain why it chose this remedy rather than entering final judgment as directed by Ind. Trial Rule 59(J)(7).2 If, however, the court, sitting in its role as a “thirteenth juror” in reviewing the evidence, orders the new trial because the verdict is against the weight of the evidence, the court “shall relate the supporting and opposing evidence to each issue upon which the new trial is granted.”