This section is from the book "The Constitutional Law Of The United States", by Westel Woodbury Willoughby. Also available from Amazon: Constitutional Law.
By the Seventh Amendment it is provided that "in suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of common law."
This provision, it has been determined by the Insular Cases, does not apply ex proprio vigore to the unincorporated Territories.
Trial by jury, as used in this provision, refers to "a jury of twelve men, in the presence of and under the superintendence of a judge empowered to instruct them in the law and to advise them on the facts, and to set aside their verdict if, in his opinion, it is against the law and the evidence." The "rules of common law," refer, of course, to the common law of England, which permit a new trial, granted by the trial court or by an appellate court for errors in law committed on the first trial.5
In Capital Traction Co. v. Hof it was held that the right to jury is preserved, when an appeal, on giving bond, is allowed from a judgment of a justice of the peace to a court of record, where trial is had by jury. The constitutional provision, it is pointed out, does not prescribe at what stage of an action a trial by jury must, if demanded, be had, or what conditions may be imposed upon the demand of such a trial, consistently with prevving the right to it. After a careful review of the practice in the States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and since, the court hold that the provision of an act of Congress requiring every appellant from the judgment of a justice of the peace in the District of Columbia to give security to pay and satisfy the judgment of the appellate court is consistent with that preservation of the right of trial by jury required by the Seventh Amendment.6
3 See §§ 1-8 and 27-84, of Act of March 4. 1909, codifying, revising, and amending the penal laws of the United States, 35 Stat, at L. Toss.
4 As to the constitutional power of Congress to afford special protection to the President, and to punish acts of violence committed against him. see House Rpt. 1422, 57th Cong.. 1st Sess.
5 Capital Traction Co. v. Hof, 174 U. S. 1; 10 Sup. Ct. Rep. 580; 43 L. ed. 873.