Observing Jury Verdict Grief

Our favorite blogging judge, Judge Richard G. Kopf of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, has written yet another blog post that caught our attention titled, A grief observed, posted on July 1, 2015 on Herculesandtheumpire.com.  Referencing C.S. Lewis’ book A Grief Observed, Judge Kopf writes about a particularly sympathetic and credible plaintiff (“a lean and tough working man with an amputated leg, over a half million in medical bills, and lasting and horrible disabilities”), the crushing defense verdict he received from the jury, and the impact that likely had on the gentleman’s lawyer.

Judge Richard G. Kopf

Judge Richard G. Kopf

Trying lawsuits is torture on the lawyers, and the pain is searing when the jury goes against you. . . . I could easily turn into a “prick” lawyer making life miserable for my opponents and the judges before whom I appeared. If so, I would revel in their frustration. I would develop an ulcer or some other physical problem that I would ignore but bitch about incessantly. In short, I would be transformed from the loving and kind young man who started law school into a real bastard.

While Judge Kopf thoughtfully considered how the defense verdict affected the lawyer in the case before him, we hope that legal consumers consider how an adverse verdict can affect the litigant.  One of the attorneys who posted a comment, Jon Margolis, provided a poignant perspective.

A good mediator will always point out to the jurors that a settlement is their choice, and that if they do not settle the decision will be left to others. When we take a new case, we point out to the client that we can make no promises–that we do not control the other side, or the judge or the jury; we can try to influence all of them, but we have no control.  Most settlements are driven by the fear of trial–which generally is a good thing.

Trials are a necessary mechanism to decide disputes, but they are often harsh, even cruel.  And sometimes reach unjust results. . .

We have blogged before about the emotional, physical and monetary drain a lawsuit can be.  Legal consumers should also consider the effects of an adverse verdict as well.



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