When we take on a case against a popular defendant, we always ask ourselves, “What will folks in the community think about this?” The reason is, people in our community have the final say on what is right and what is wrong when a case goes to jury trial. It’s the purest democratic form around. Twelve people in the jury box. They apply the facts to the law and tell us what they think is fair and just when they announce their verdict.
Voire dire is old French and means “to speak the truth.” In a jury trial, we talk to prospective jurors about how they see the world. The goal is to identify people who can’t be fair and unbiased in a particular case. Since we are looking for a fair and just result, we try to make sure that the folks who make the decisions don’t have a personal agenda that will color their decision.
In voire dire, the judge and attorneys ask prospective jurors questions and then listen to their thoughtful responses. Here are some examples from a medical negligence case I handled in 2011. How would you answer these if you were sitting in the jury box at the start of a jury trial?
2. If you were a juror in a case like this and you decided a doctor’s negligence hurt a person, what trouble would you have – even a little – allowing money for the medical costs?
3. Some folks have trouble allowing money for taking care of someone who is hurt if there is family around who might pitch in, while others are okay with fixing the hurt without burdening the family. Which are you closer to?
4. Some folks have trouble allowing money for pain and others are okay with it. Which are you closer to?
5. Rules and standards. Some folks believe that rules and standards need to be followed, others feel that rules can be ignored. Which group are you closer to?
6. Some people believe that they can’t decide whether or not a doctor followed the rules, some believe they can. Which group are you closer to?
7. Some people believe doctors aren’t always right, others believe that doctors are right all the time. Which group are you closer to?
8. Some folks think that it is okay to question what a doctor does, others believe that doctor’s can’t ever be questioned. Which group are you closer to?
9. Some people believe that when a doctor violates a rule and someone is injured, it is okay to hold him responsible. Other people believe that a doctor can’t be responsible for injuring someone no matter what rule he breaks. Which group are you closer to?
10. Some people think that lawsuits against doctors don’t violate any of their religious, philosophical or moral beliefs, others think the opposite. Which group are you closer to?
11. I will tell you right now that [Mom] won’t be here every day, because she is the primary caregiver for her daughter. Some people think it is okay that the mom isn’t here in court every day even though you have to be, others believe she should be here everyday, no excuses. Which group are you closer to?
12. Some people can handle a lot of pain, some folks can’t handle much at all. Which are you closer to?
13. When you first heard about this case, what was your reaction?
14. Some folks feel they’re pretty capable on their own of keeping themselves and their family safe. Others feel they have to depend on others. Which group are you closer to?
The US Department of Justice announced today that Merck, Sharp & Dohme will plead guilty to illegal promotion of Vioxx (rofecoxib) and will pay a $950 million in fines and penalties to the US government and individual states.
As part of the settlement, Merck has also agreed to enter into an expansive corporate integrity agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG), which will strengthen the system of reviews and oversight procedures imposed on the company. Although Vioxx is no longer on the market, this ongoing monitoring of Merck’s conduct is aimed to deter and detect similar conduct in the future.
Click here to read the full Press Release from the Department of Justice.
We have a lot to be thankful for, let’s take some time to think on that this holiday season!
All our best to you and your family!
According to ABC News, in the 10 months since a bullet to the brain left her in critical condition, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords has relearned how to talk — a feat partly credited to music therapy.
Giffords suffered from aphasia — the inability to speak because of damage to the language pathways in her brain’s left hemisphere. But by layering words on top of melody and rhythm, she trained her brain to use a less-traveled pathway to the same destination.
“Music is that other road to get back to language,” said Meaghan Morrow, Giffords’ music therapist and a certified brain injury specialist at TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston. Morrow compared the process to a freeway detour. ”You aren’t able to go forward on that pathway anymore,” she said, but “you can exit and go around, and get to where you need to go.”
According to Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, associate professor of neurology and director of the Music and Neuroimaging Laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School: “The brain’s ability to pave new pathways around damaged areas is called neuroplasticity. An adult can relearn to speak — with the right training and a lot of practice.”able to go forward on that pathway anymore,” she said, but “you can exit and go around, and get to where you need to go.”
Read more about this on ABCNews.com
Evidence of widespread prevalence of elder identity theft represents a new wrinkle in society’s battle against this digital age crime.
Security firm ID Analytics looked at billions of credit applications and other related data recently to find people using the same Social Security number and last name, but different first names, with an eye toward determining the prevalence of child ID theft. More than 2 million elderly adults are sharing an SSN with their adult children.
Read more on : msnbc.msn.com
California Government Code section 23004.1 creates a sort of “super-lien” in personal injury cases. It pops up when a county provides medical services, so watch out for this if that is your situation.
If there are county provided medical services in connection with a personal injury case, then the county has a lien against any settlement or judgment proceeds that may not even require it to reduce its claim in proportion to the attorneys fees and costs incurred to recover the money (what we call the “common fund doctrine”).
A man has been convicted of drug charges after a judge in Washington state declared that pencil-and-pen-packing defendant Joshua Monson forfeited his right to counsel because of three attacks on his lawyers during court hearings.
None of the lawyers was seriously hurt. In the first two incidents, which occurred less than a week apart, Monson was accused of stabbing two different lawyers with pencils he smuggled from jail, HeraldNet.com reports. On Tuesday, Monson grabbed the pen being used by his defense lawyer, Jesse Cantor of Everett, Wash., and stabbed Cantor in the head, witnesses said.
The attack occurred Tuesday as prosecutors gave opening statements in Monson’s felony drug trial in Snohomish County. Corrections officers set off an electric stun cuff on Monson’s leg as he lunged for the pen and then piled on top of him, the story says. The first person to reach Monson was a police officer seated at the prosecution table.
Judge David Kurtz said Monson would have to defend himself without a lawyer and would be strapped to a special chair for the rest of the trial. Kurtz advised jurors to ignore the incident, the restraints and the lawyer’s absence.
HeraldNet.com reported that Monson was convicted of drug possession Thursday while in the restraint chair. “A standby defense attorney from King County sat through the hearings to answer Monson’s legal questions,” HeraldNet.com wrote. Monson was not allowed to sign court documents with a pen or pencil.
The NFL will instruct game officials to be more alert to concussion symptoms this week in the wake of the head trauma and subsequent seizure suffered by San Diego Chargers guard Kris Dielman on Oct. 23.
“We are taking the step on officials to make them alert to obvious concussion symptoms,” Greg Aiello, the NFL’s vice president of public relations, said. “We’re not trying to train the officials to be doctors, but we’re asking them to treat it like other injuries that may make it necessary to stop the game and get them medical attention, either on the field or by getting them off the field.”
Read more on ESPN.com
Okay, now we see how far social media has crept into our legal system.
Seems a Minnesota judge has ordered “divorce paper service by “email, ‘Facebook, Myspace or any other social networking site.’”
The subject was an absent husband believed living in West Africa. The judge rejected the notion of service by general delivery (“General delivery made sense 100 years agao, but let’s be real”) and legal trade paper (“Nobody, particularly poor people, is going to look at the legal newspaper to notice that their spouse wants to get divorced.”).
While this looks like an unusual fact pattern, the truth is that social networks are a big part of modern life and the legal system is recognizing that fact.