In my jury trial closings, I usually refer to the law instruction that the judge has given, that tells the jury, what damages to consider. It is like a scorecard for the final verdict. It outlines all the factors that go into the dollar amount of a verdict to include such things as medical expenses, loss of wages, disfigurement and pain and suffering. Mental anguish is also to be considered.
Several years ago, someone broke into our house while we were on vacation, in the Outer Banks.. When I found out, we drove home to take inventory of the items that were stolen. Some had some financial value. One thing that was stolen was my grandfather's pocket watch. Also, on the window sill upstairs, there was a footprint where the intruder had placed a ladder and forced his way into the house. Thereafter, I have never lived in a house without an alarm.
Until we moved out of the house, my wife and I never really got away from that event. In some respects, you feel violated to have someone come into your house and rummage through your things. That watch had value to me that far exceeded any financial consideration. Insurance did reimburse for the lost items but there was no value that I really could place on the feeling of that experience.
In a story of personal violation yesterday, Illinois man, Michael David Barrett, pleaded guilty of stalking and secretly taping ESPN reporter Erin Andrews. His plea agreement calls for 27 months of prison. He was granted bail, to come back in February for his final sentencing. It was a plea agreement that Andrews did not agree to, as the victim.
"His actions have had a devastating impact on me and my family", said Andrews. (ESPN) She said that she is constantly reminded that Barrett's videos appear online, because she is regularly subjected to cruel taunts from sports fans, while working games as a sideline reporter. She was also bothered that Judge Manuel Real granted Barrett bail. She had said that she hopes that Barrett "never sees the light of day".
Andrews plans to advocate for changes in the hotel industry that did not have precautions in place, to keep this from happening. She said that she was appalled to learn that hotels gave out information where she was staying. In addition, the emotional impact of Barrett's actions continue. "When I check into hotels, I look around, constantly thinking he is there," she said. She also says that she has nightmares about the experience.
I started this blog out to discuss mental anguish. I thought that real stories would put it into context. It has been said that many just consider it to be emotional weakness when others experience it and mental anguish when you do. It is my belief that mental anguish is probably the greatest damage that is suffered in any car crash. Unless a juror has some life experience, they probably have a hard time considering it. I rarely find a defense attorney who considers it a damage either.