I am done with Jury Duty! The parties decided to settle after only a few days of testimonies. As the judge mentioned, sometimes the attorneys will get an idea of which way the jurors are leaning and decide they rather not take a chance. I was somewhat sad to see it end before the end. I was enjoying the process, even though, at times, testimonies were long and boring.
Now I am free to talk about the case, but I will make it really short and I will mention no names. The judge said we were free to write about as long as we painted him in a good light 🙂 I do have to say that this judge was a joy, easygoing, funny, personable. The case was a Medical Malpractice case. This 37 year old lady went to a doctor for a biopsy of the lymph nodes in the right side of her neck. It turned out not to be cancer, but her contention was that while performing the biopsy the doctor touched 2 nerves, one that affected the ear and one that affected the arm. The 2 complaints was that she is in constant pain in her ear and cannot lift her arm past a 90 degree angle. He said the pain in her ear was so bad that she couldn’t even wear earrings. He mentioned that a few times, during questioning of the jurors, during his Opening Arguments and while she was testifying.
While she was testifying we could not see her ear because she had her long hair covering it. The attorney decided to put up a picture to show the scar on her neck in an attempt to highlight the fact that her body heals well and were not for the doctor’s negligence she would not have developed those issues. It backfired!
She had earrings on in the picture! It was shocking to me that her attorney introduced a picture of her with earrings on, when, just the day before; he had mentioned that she was in too much pain to wear earrings.
“You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times. But in the end, it’s always their actions you should judge them by. It’s actions, not words, that matter.” ― Nicholas Sparks
The defense attorney pounced on that point when it was his turn. When he asked her about the earring she snapped at him and said she is still a woman and if she is going out she still likes to get dressed up. I thought her outburst worked against her – it seemed desperate. There were some other details that were going against her too but I will leave them out to keep this short and not overkill the subject unnecessarily.
After the judge informed us that the parties had settled and we were no longer needed, he said we were free to talk to the attorneys about the case. We left the courtroom and met the 2 attorneys in the hall. I looked at the plaintiff’s attorney and said: The earring! He knew exactly what I was talking about and replied something like (I don’t remember the exact wording): “that is your Brazilian assumption/opinion”
What does being a Brazilian have anything to do with it? He messed up! It is that simple!
In the end everyone won or lost, depending on how one decides to look at it. I think that she was lucky to settle and get something. If left for the jurors to decide I am not sure it would go her way.
I have to say that even though I don’t really like all this suing business I had a wonderful experience. I enjoyed seeing all the players in action. I enjoyed meeting all the different people in the jury.
This was a learning experience for me, I had to tap into different areas that I struggle with. One of the hardest part was in trying to be impartial. I have a tendency to not like victims, and people that play victims. I have a tendency to expect people to act like how I would act in a similar situation. I had to step back and say to myself: “this is not you or your life we are discussing”. It was also hard for me to keep focused on the matter at hand. At times I could feel my mind drifting but I would quickly try get it back to the present and to the matter at hand. I also made sure not to jump to conclusions and keep an open mind – there are always different versions of the same story. I paid attention to the testimony and to all details, such as the evidence presented and also to the witnesses’ body language. I think it is incredible what the body can convey without words.
But I think hardest of all was to leave the matter in the court and not talk about it with the other jurors, and not research any of the details about it. During the breaks we all had a lot to say but we had to keep reminding each other that we couldn’t go there until the case was presented in its entirety and we had received the judge’s instructions. When I got home I wanted to Google the doctor and plaintiff and details of the case and possibly find information that perhaps others missed (yes, I think I am that good! :-). But I couldn’t and I didn’t, instead I could only evaluate what was presented in court.
In the end I learned a lot and I would recommend to anyone to serve as a juror if nothing to just say they did it! 🙂
A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one. ~Rita Mae Brown