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December 23, 2005

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Evan Schaeffer adds further comments to last week’s post. Be sure to also read the comments at the end of [Read More]

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Greedy Trial Lawyer

In one way or another a juror with relevant professional experience should be excluded from service when it can reasonably be anticipated that the professional experience would permit the juror to color the deliberations with facts or opinions well outside the experience of lay persons.

No voir dire questioning could be expected to uncover and defuse all of the time bombs that are likely to exist within the professional education and experience of the juror. While it is true that there will also be time bombs within the background and experience of every juror, it is only the professional who has the ability to speak with what may be perceived as uncontradicted and impartial authority.

Some states experimented with medical malpractice panels in the past (a doctor, lawyer and judge, for example). Invariably, the doctor was giving lectures on the standard of care and the reality of practice. It was not a pretty sight.

Yaron

Hi.

I'm not a lawyer, and not even a US citizen. Which may explain why I sometime find your Jury system perplexing.

Such as in this case. If I understand correctly, what you are saying is that if one of the lawyers provided inaccurate or false information, without the other side's lawyer noticing, or if the claims made by one side don't make sense for a non-trivial reason, jurors should disregard anyone who may have enough professional/expert knowledge on the field to catch this?
Just because this is a professional knowledge, instead of common, and that the other side's lawyer didn't consult with a relevant expert?

And that it is the case even if, especially if, the profession of the juror, and the juror's specialized knowledge, is highly relevant to the case?

I can see how this would fit the (a?) letter of the law, but does it really fit the spirit of the law?

What if the detail is professional in nature, but for some other reason came into the public notice on the media, and while the lawyer missed it many of the jury didn't? Are they all to ignore their own knowledge then, just because it came from a specialized/professional source?

Dr. Zaius

Yaron, you make a good point.

I think that having a professional on the jury is a benefit to truth. That is, even if the professional is wrong, his opinion can help the jury figure out the ultimate facts at issue.

As long as he doesn't take over the deliberations (which is possible even for juries without a professional), he should be able to use his experience - just like any other juror - to render a verdict.

christopher king

Methinks the only fair way to do this is to have the Jury approach the Bench whenever someone has professional experience that was not discovered during voir dire.

Then Judge calls the parties in and treats the issue as if it were a question, so that each side may offer a brief -- and I mean brief -- comment.

But what the hell do I know? I'm suspended, anyway for pissing off Judges.

-c

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