Posts Tagged ‘juries’

Update to Tennessee medmal verdict

Update to the Hamilton County medical malpractice case we discussed in May. Four jurors have signed affidavits claiming that they were “coerced” by the judges’ instructions demanding a verdict into finding for the plaintiff rather than deadlocking the jury; one or two others deny that this happened. (Chattanooga Free Press, Jun. 14, Jun. 24, and Jun. 28; h/t J.T.)

While the “Allen charge” the judge gave appears to violate Tennessee law (which, unlike federal law, disapproves of such instructions), reading between the lines of the news stories, it seems that the defendants sandbagged any objection. As one can see, the journalist did not know enough law to ask the follow-up question “Did you object at the time to the jury instruction?”, which would be the critical inquiry. (Though it is possible that she did know, but had that part of her story cut by editors.) If this is the best grounds of appeal for the defendants, and plaintiff’s lawyers are correct that there was no objection at the time, the defendant is facing a steep uphill battle. Generally, courts don’t like to go wading elbows deep to scrutinize the jury deliberations; otherwise, every trial would be followed by a collateral trial into the claims of jurors, and losing parties would have the incentive to lobby jurors to testify against their verdict. (I learned this the hard way in my first appellate briefing as a junior associate.)

Great moments in jury deliberations

According to affidavits in a Texas case, one juror slept during deliberations, another “all but read” a newspaper account about the incident aloud to others, some used “personal feelings” to decide, and one juror “asked to be told how to vote so she could get out of deliberations.” An appeals court sustained the defendant’s conviction anyway; Colin Miller at Evidence Law Blog explains the legal logic, if that is the right word for it.

Letting jurors ask questions during trials

As Steve Chapman notes in a recycled but still-relevant column, a Seventh Circuit experiment along those lines seems to have served justice well. Commenters at Reason “Hit and Run” say the practice has long been in use in the military justice system. I mention the issue toward the end of this 2003 Reason piece adapted from my book The Rule of Lawyers (which I notice now has a Kindle edition).

March 27 roundup

  • Find me someone who speaks Mixtecan, fast: under new California law health insurers must provide patients with certified language interpreters [Ventura County Star]
  • “Law Prof’s Article on His Jury Experience Leads to Overturned Verdict” [ABA Journal]
  • Quick, lock up the Internet: Harvard Law’s John Palfrey wants to unleash child-endangerment suits against online providers [Citizen Media Law]
  • “Another Lesbian Visitation Case has Liberty Counsel Spouting Nonsense” [Ed Brayton; earlier Miller-Jenkins case]
  • “Jury awards need to be fair, not lucrative” [Jackie Bueno Sousa, Miami Herald]
  • Aussie strip club disagrees with exotic dancer on whether faulty pole caused her injury [Brisbane Courier-Mail]
  • Hasbro nastygram over “Little Mr. Monopoly” use [Bob Ambrogi, Ron Coleman]
  • No, “crash of ’09” doesn’t refute “capitalist system”, any more than “car wreck” refutes “auto-based travel”.

February 19 roundup

  • Surprising origins of federal corruption probe that tripped up Luzerne County, Pa. judges who were getting kickbacks on juvenile detention referrals: insurers had noted local pattern of high car-crash arbitration sums and sniffed collusion between judges and plaintiff’s counsel [Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Legal Intelligencer] Court administrator pleads to theft [Times Leader] Judge Ciavarella had secret probation parole program [PAHomepage]
  • We get accolades: “ has a new look. Great new format, same good stuff,” writes ex-securities lawyer Christopher Fountain, whose real estate blog I’m always recommending to people even if they live nowhere near his turf of Greenwich, Ct. [For What It’s Worth]
  • “Fla. Jury Awards $8M to Family of Dead Smoker in Philip Morris Case” [ABA Journal; for more on the complicated background of the Engle case, which renders Florida a unique environment for tobacco litigation, start here]
  • Scott Greenfield vs. Ann Bartow vs. Marc Randazza on the AutoAdmit online-bathroom-scrawl litigation, all in turn playing off a David Margolick piece in Portfolio;
  • Eric Turkewitz continues his investigations of online solicitation by lawyers following the Buffalo crash of Continental Flight #3407 [NY Personal Injury Law Blog, Mon. and Tues. posts; earlier]
  • One vital element of trial management: keep track of how many jurors there are [Anne Reed, Deliberations]
  • Public Citizen vs. public health: Sidney Wolfe may succeed in getting the FDA to ban Darvon, and the bone marrow transplant nurse isn’t happy about that [Dr. Wes, KevinMD, more on Wolfe here]
  • “Baseball Star’s [uninfected] Ex Seeks $15M for Fear of AIDS” [OnPoint News, WaPo, New York Mets star Roberto Alomar]

February 8 roundup

  • There’s money in lost personal data: “Counsel Could Rake in $5 Million from Veterans Settlement” [Weissmann/BLT]
  • Commentaries on now-settled GateHouse v. NYTimes lawsuit (news organization grabs/aggregates rival’s reports) [Ardia and Lindenberger, Citizen Media Law; Nieman Journalism Lab]
  • Funny and instantly recognizable: cop talk converted to human talk [Legal Antics]
  • No need to worry about revival of Fairness Doctrine, they told us — uh-oh, here comes talk radio “accountability” [Patterico]
  • Lenders whipped up one side of the street for too-easy credit standards, then down the other for tightening them [McArdle]
  • Murder convictions for drunk drivers? Not so fast, a New York appeals court decision suggests [Greenfield]
  • When no one writes a leniency letter at your sentencing, maybe problem is not so much that you’re a crooked lawyer as that you’re a powerless lawyer [YallPolitics on Tim Balducci, Mississippi]
  • If lawyers strike everyone who’s griped about jury duty on Facebook “we’re going to run out of jurors really fast” [Anne Reed]