Muhammad Ali’s party for his 70th birthday party was this past weekend.
When Muhammad Ali’s wife was asked whether Ali wanted to attend a birthday party for his 70th, she smiled and said something like, “he likes attending parties when they are for him”.
On Friday, I was negotiating with an adjuster. It was my first conversation with him. He was downplaying my client’s injuries because this adjuster had experienced several prior knee injuries and surgeries. He was overlaying his own life’s experiences in evaluating the claim.
Not long ago, I was in our South Carolina office. Someone called and left a voicemail on my Richmond office voicemail that went something like this, “I understand that you are out of the office on vacation. It must be nice. When you get back, please give me a call”.
That voicemail was like fingernails on the chalkboard. It would have been great if it had been vacation but then the message threw that zinger in, as though they could never go on vacation and I should feel some guilt about it.
All these are examples of how we look at things through our own personal telescope. A birthday is more fun when its our birthday. Personal pain means more than pain of someone else. That person calling me was irritated that I was on vacation; and I was irritated because ….. I wasn’t on vacation! Both personal viewpoints.
When I have a scheduled jury trial, I always wonder what the jury will look like. Will they be in bad moods? Are they irritated to be there? I always hope that jurors will listen intently about the case but I know that personal experiences are part of the jury system and that is part of how a juror arrives at their verdict.
Sometimes when a prospective juror does not have their number called to sit in the jury box for our case, I see some, exhale a sigh of relief. Personally, it worries me a bit if someone is too excited to be on the jury. I assume they have some personal agenda that might not be too helpful for the case.
Big Business attacks our jury system because of the personal nature of it and its impact on verdicts. Thankfully,we don’t rely on Hammurabi’s code of law , Most of us think of it as the concept of “eye for an eye”.
Based on copies found on stone, the Code was based on 282 laws with nearly half dealing with contract. This code is the longest surviving text from the Babylonia period.
It is interesting history to read how to deal with a builder, when a house was built, sold, and then collapses. For personal injury claims, such “cases” were brought in front of a panel of judges. Money damages were not part of judgment. Instead, a loss was equally determined and that is how such judgments of an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” really became reality.
One law application read more like a proverb. “If you go and take the field of an enemy, the enemy will come and take your field”.
When Hammurabi took such great pains to come up with a code to be followed, he believed that it’s importance would be carried on. In the epilogue, it is written of the code that “In future time, through all coming generations, let the king, who may be in the land, observe the words of righteousness which I have written on my monument; let him not alter the law of the land which I have given, and the edicts which I have enacted….” Hammurabi had a bit of an ego.
Our jury system is under attack. Limits placed on jury awards or mandatory arbitration are intended to replace the will of the juror, because people do sit on the jury and bring their personal thoughts and life experiences while applying the law.
The framers of Constitution gave us a right of trial by jury. That sounds a whole lot better than Hammurabi’s code that says, “If any one buy from the son or the slave of another man, without witnesses or a contract: silver or gold, a male or female slave, an ox or a sheep, an ass or anything; or if he take it in charge, he is considered a thief and should be put to death”.
I wonder if Big Business or politicians would rather have that type of judgment for their conduct instead of a jury trial? Not when it would be personally about them. The way I “see it”, let’s stick with the wisdom of the Constitution.
Our pic o’ day is one of “wisdom”.