Friday, October 2, 2009

Closing arguments

Hear yea! Hear yea! First read the jury seat, opening arguments, and the witness stand. Now, please rise for the honorable conclusion to this unexpected series. You may now be seated.

Lawyers Laurel and Hardy had bumbled their way through the trial and seriously needed the judge to find both in contempt for wasting everyone’s time on such a trivial case that should have never come through the court system. When the end of this trial came, it left both clients with an important lesson: rational thinking with rational communication in seeking mutual compromises leads to having fatter wallets for yourselves. Irrational thinking with irrational litigation based solely on greed leads to the lawyers having the fatter wallets.

Closing arguments commenced.

Hardy (Cast Lady’s lawyer) reemphasized his client’s mental, emotional, and physical anguish. He said the jury needed to take in account all evidence and rule in her favor since it was as obvious as a baboon’s naked backside that enough of the debris trespassed on Garage Man’s property for him to be held accountable for Cast Lady’s injuries. Thank you.

Laurel (Garage Man’s lawyer) reemphasized Cast Lady’s questionable past and that this was just another way to fleece an inordinate amount of money from someone else’s bank account. He asked the jurors to consider the facts carefully and whether the other lawyer had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the piffling section of debris was on Garage Man’s property before Cast Lady’s accident or caused by her fall and those people who lifted the woman from the ground. Thank you.

By the time closing arguments ended, it was approaching lunchtime. On this rare occasion, they sequestered us in the deliberation room. So instead of partaking in a meal somewhere in the city (I had gone Chick-Fil-A and Chinese takeout crazy during this), the court clerks ordered simple box meals for us. It consisted of a regular sandwich of choice (ham or turkey), a bag of plain potato chips, a fruit cup, and a soda. All twelve people sat in the cramped room looking at the evidence. It took us less than ten minutes to decide.

But first, let me ask a serious question of my readers. What would YOU have decided?

You already know the facts. Yet perhaps I have given a biased opinion in my recounting. I will now give an unbiased account of all the hard evidence, extenuating circumstances, and city laws.

These were the facts:

A safety hazard was on a public sidewalk.
The house owner created the hazard.
The hazard was found on both his and an adjoining property.
A person became injured.
***
These were the laws involving this case:

City law allowed the injured to sue for medical and lost wages.
City law allowed the injured to sue whoever owned the property where the debris was found - who created the debris was not a consideration.
***
These were the extenuating circumstances:

The injured had waited more than four hours before seeking medical aid.
The injured had been fined and fired from a previous job for theft in the same amount as was being asked for in this case.
***
Based on the above information, form your own ruling. Do you have it in your minds? Okay, let me throw something else at you now.
***
Nobody knew if the debris was on the other property before the injured fell or shifted there afterward when the injured lifted off the debris.

This was the stickler. It was pure conjecture tossed out to send that itty-bitty worm of doubt into the jurors’ minds. The lawyer representing the garage owner had to say it although the other lawyer had protested his question and the argument was sustained by the judge. It was the only thing that could possibly save his client from losing the case.

Yet should it be considered part of the trial? A juror’s task is to decide based on the hard evidence, the laws, and any extenuating circumstances proven to be true. The lawyer’s task was to present their cases and lead our minds to rule in their favor.

Did the lawyers do their jobs right? Did they prove their sides with honesty?

Lawyer Hardy openly misrepresented parts of the testimony involving the photographs - something he even conceded to without any duress from the judge.

Lawyer Laurel deliberately threw out a conjecture question while having no evidence to support it.

So, take out your notes and go back through them. Then drop your answer in the comments.

I’ll give the jurors’ verdict on Monday.

12 comments:

  1. Was it ever established which speciffic hazard--not the whole pile of debris--caused the particular injury? Even if both property owners had been negligent, I would have voted for acquittal unless I had an irrefutable answer to the above question. Waiting for the end of your serial with bated breath.

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  2. What knucklehead said. Mm, I find myself agreeing with knucklehead's way too often.

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  3. Leaning toward Knucklehead agreement too, but reserving right to change mind if more evidence and info is forthcoming from the juror madly scribbling in her notebook.

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  4. Jury finds in favor of the defendant. Plaintiff did not have enough compelling evidence, coupled with the fact that she waited four (!) hours to go to the ER, and the wonky pictures.

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  5. I still say that since the debris was on "public" property, the city is liable. Public property is the responsibility of the governing local jurisdiction. For example: A person is driving a truck which happens to have a mattress in the bed. Said mattress falls off of truck and lands in the middle of the street. Mattress sits in middle of street for a length of time and then driver X hits mattress in street causing an accident. You can bet your sweet patooty that the city has a law suit against them within the week.

    So, verdict...defendant is guilty. Plaintiff should hire an attorney that knows who to sue.

    Or, I could just be talking out my butt.

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  6. Oops, I meant, the defendant is NOT guilty.

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  7. Judith: No, it was left for the jury to assume the whole pile caused the injury, which allowed the plaintiff to sue the garage owner for the small bit of stones on his property. Yet in the end, this damaged her case since it could also be assumed she broke her arm right on the sidewalk itself.

    Knucklehead: Straight and to the point. See, you'd make an excellent juror.

    Elizabeth: Ah, but sometimes knuckleheads speak the truth...

    Angie: Unfortunately, there was no other info, which is why I'm still leaning toward the fact that both lawyers were boneheads who didn't do a good enough job representing either of their clients.

    Thimbelle: Yes, that 4-hour wait didn't help. I understand people are always hesitant to go to hospitals when thinking their injuries aren't serious enough to risk a bill. But this was a pretty bad injury where she needed bolts put into her arm.

    Theresa: You know more about city codes than I do. But that fact still surprises me to this day over how people can sue over slip-n-falls on sidewalks. Even if that isn't taken into consideration, it was still the homeowner who created the debris - not the garage owner.
    ***************************
    Of course all my answers may be beside the point. It sounds like I'm agreeing with mostly everyone here. Yet... remember that when it comes to rulings, a person must decide by the rules of the law despite not liking how the final verdict leans toward.

    The plaintiff had the right to sue whichever property the debris was located on. And it was established that the debris was located on both properties...

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  8. Great writing Michelle. Our opinion . . . she shouldn't get a penny.

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  9. Catching up on blogs, and really enjoying this series, Michelle. Can't wait to read the denouement tomorrow.

    I love how this story goes to prove the old joke. In any lawsuit, there are four parties: the plaintiff, the plaintiff's lawyer, the defendant, and the defendant's lawyer. Two of will win, and two will lose. The lawyers never lose.

    -TimK

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  10. My opinion is that the dumb lady is just looking to get paid. Of course, I'm a cynic by nature so... Nice summation, Michelle.

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  11. Ruth: You are a natural juror.

    Tim K.: They should make a plaque with that joke and force all lawyers to hang it in their offices.

    Eric: Cynics are allowed to weigh in on their opinions. If not, I would have to shut down my blog.

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