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Professional Juries Pros and Cons

I get a few magazines in the mail for the reception area. One of the favorites of the office comes from Costco as a result of my membership. It’s not even a paid magazine subscription, unless you count the membership fee. Free is good!

The September 2015 edition of The Costco Connection has an article titled Are professional juries a good idea? The article title is answered with brief responses for both sides. One is an answer of YES  to the question and right below it is the responsive answer of NO. The September edition is not yet online, so let me summarize the positions.

The answer of YES is written by a retired FBI agent. He basis his answer on the benefit of familiarity. He believes that juries would do a better job if they were trained and understood the law when sitting on a civil or criminal jury. Just as police, and prosecutors, and judges are trained, so should be juries.

An attorney writes the response for NO. He argues the benefits of a jury of peers, and that a professionally trained juror would not be within that definition. His argument is based on an interpretation of the Constitution.

I have attached two other articles  below, that deal with professional juries. No one argues that there should be justice. It’s just a question of how best to get there.

What are the pros and cons of ‘professional jurors?’   and Professional Juries: Veritas or Vocation?

 

And a pic o’ day from my Mom:

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Game Show/Trial Details

      I suspect that you are wondering, “Joel, where are you going with this?” Well, the picture is from the TV show “Match Game”. It’s most famous versions were in the 70’s and 80’s. Recently, when Richard Dawson passed away; people were reminded of his role on the show, before he moved as host for “Family Feud” and his infamous contestant kissing and bellowing of “Survey Says?”

More history on Match Game can be found here. Although, you probably didn’t wake up craving some Match Game trivia today. This picture shows three of the regulars: Richard Dawson,  Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers (Jack Klugman’s ex-wife). The host was primarily Gene Rayburn (1962-1984). See, you are getting some real helpful information for the day!

The concept of the game was to match celebrity answers to the game’s question.

     Gene Rayburn would read a question that required a fill-in-the-blank. The first question to the two contestants would be something like “Did you hear about the new religious group of dentists? They call themselves the Holy (blank)”, and the contestants would then give an answer, after the celebrities had written out their responses on cards.

At the end of the game, one contestant would pick one celebrity panelist, for the opportunity to match the answer and win the big money prize for the day. Richard Dawson kept getting picked as the celebrity. So, in 1978, the show instituted the “Star Wheel”; which would determine which celebrity was going to attempt a match with the contestant.

I promise, I’m getting to the point of the blog. Plus, you just don’t see this kind of TV show anymore. Now, contestants are singing, picking a mate for life or bouncing off moving targets and into the water. But… I digress! Here’s where the importance of detail becomes part of the story.

On Friday night, my wife and I had dinner with two other couples. One told the story of how he left Maine and went to California. Yep, he ended up on the Match Game.

It was sometime after 1978, because the Star Wheel was being used. He was the winning contestant, which meant that he got to play in the final round for the big cash daily prize.

When he stood up and went to the wheel, Gene Rayburn (host) kept asking him why he was acting nervous and looking down at his pants. He told Rayburn that he was concerned whether his zipper was down on national TV. Rayburn told him not to worry about that, “we have a zipper person that worries about that exact thing”.

That story makes me smile. It doesn’t surprise me but it is a reminder of the importance, behind the scenes. In law, of course, getting ready for trial has a lot of little things occurring. All medical bills to be introduced to the jury have to be redacted, meaning that any word that shows “insurance” or an insurance payment can not be shown to the jury. The existence of insurance or the mention of the word “insurance” is a basis for mistrial.

For witnesses, including the police officer, you remind them that no one can say  “accident report”. It is up to the jury to decide fault; and if they hear about the accident report, they may put too much emphasis on who the officer cited, which is not admissible. Fault is up to the jury. So, the mere mention of accident report is a basis for mistrial. An important detail and preparation that is behind the scenes.

For pic o’ day, I went with one that is about… well, searching or details or survey says?

 

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