Leo Finucane, TLC ’97 Grad. TLC List Serve, 6/12/2012
A little debriefing from last week’s trial because I get so much from it when you do it.
I settled Linda’s case after jury selection and a day of testimony from my experts.
Linda, age 72, got hit by a car as a pedestrian in a store parking lot. Linda’s back was broken and she had to have fusion surgery. The collision was captured on the store’s security cameras. The trial was about damages only but we got to play the movie for the jury to show them the force of impact. It is a breathtaking little clip. The hot issue during trial would be whether Linda was experiencing recent falls from her spinal cord injury or from a previously existing movement disorder.
But I am here to tell you about my friend, Warrior Steve Shultz and how much he helped me.
Steve lives about 4 hours from me. Three weeks ago, he came to visit with me and Linda and we had a very nice TLC conversation with Linda together at her house. Then, he arrived the day before Jury Selection and we psychodramaed the jury together the night before. The goals were to encourage honest exchange, not argue, empower the jurors, make them heroes and join with them together in a quest for justice. Ah, yes: To be reminded. “Men are more in need of reminding than instruction.” – Samuel Johnson. Steve reminded me of so many things. The lesson here is the benefit of TLC collaboration.
FYI, I do not live in a happy place to pick a jury. They do not like plaintiffs here. I have learned this any number of times and have deep scars to show for my schooling.
THE JURY was my biggest fear.
Jury selection is not recorded here and no judge presides over it. Steve came to jury selection with me. He sat there taking down what the venirmen said on his laptop, so that if cause issues arose, we would have a record. I can scarce say how much this measure inspired confidence in me. So many times, in past cases, when cause issues develop and we go back to see the judge about them, the other side always has a different recollection of the exchange and rehabilitation begins. In 30 years doing jury selection around here, except for the most blatant bias (think blood relative), I do not recall winning a “cause” debate.
The battle-ground, as established the night before in psychodrama with Steve, was a juror’s mind simply closed to damages for pain and suffering. Never, ever eliminated a juror on those grounds. Until last week. Even if prejudiced in the extreme about it, of course, on follow up by court or counsel, they can always be “fair.” Sure you can.
I have never been more confident during Jury Selection than I was that day. I felt myself having the same conversation with jurors I had had during psychodrama the night before. During breaks with Steve, we agreed upon the folks that needed to be removed and when I resumed dialogue with them, the grounds for “cause” dismissal unfolded in most amiable fashion. It seemed even the most philosophically hostile candidates were in agreement with me that they should not be on the jury, that their participation would not serve justice and, like friends, provided us with unassailable grounds to be removed. The door was then slammed shut on them, per Ball on Damages with:
Q: You really won’t be able to give Linda any money for pain and suffering will you?
Q: And nothing I say is going to change your mind, is it?
Q: And nothing Mr. L says is going to change your mind, is it?
A: No. (smiling)
Q: Not even anything the judge says is going to make you feel differently about giving Linda money for her pain and suffering, is it?
A: No. (even bigger smile, maybe even laughing!)
How happy everyone seemed to be with this!!!! TLC, Eric Oliver, Carl Bettinger, Gerry Spence, Steve Shultz and all my TLC friends here in regular discussion of trial topics helped me develop an environment in the courtroom during jury selection that rewarded honest, candid exchange! What an idea!!!
I counted 8 jurors being removed for cause without ANY push back from defense counsel. It would have been a waste of time and he knew it. At the end of the day, he actually said: “I have never seen jurors talks so much. They usually don’t say anything.” Thank you, TLC.
Consequently, I started trial in a the most confident manner. Thanks to Steve Shultz and you guys.
TLC inspires confidence. The settlement reflects it. There is no replacement for confidence. It allows us to work with our fears.
To quote David Smith: “Thank God I’m a Warrior.”