Monday, September 13, 2004

Could Michael Moore be Right?

Mr. Moore has been quoted as saying that Americans are “possibly the dumbest people on the planet,” and after my experience “playing juror” on a focus group I am tempted to say that he is right. Here is why:

I was one of 12 jurors hired to participate in a mock trial that lawyers were going to use to see if they should proceed with a real trial. To say that I was surprised by my fellow jurors would be an understatement—I was floored by their gullibility.

The case was simple enough: A college student was driving down a country road when she encountered a dust cloud caused by an almond harvester (very common in the area). She pulled to the shoulder to wait for the visibiliey to improve, but then decided to turn around and go back. Tragically, her ensuing U-turn put her right into the path of an oncoming big rig and she was killed instantly.

These facts I have mentioned are not in dispute. The California Highway Patrol, the defense lawyer, the lawyer for the girls’ family, and an eyewitness all concur. What is in dispute is who deserves the blame for this girl’s death.

Only the solemnity of event being discussed kept me from guffawing as the lawyer tried to explain that it was not the girl’s fault. Here are a few of the doosies he tried to win us over with:

• The girl made this dangerous turn because she feared she would have a severe asthma attack had she stayed near the dust much longer.

• The evil trucking company only paid the driver by the load so he was running up and down that road all day without regard to anything except how much money he could make.

• A device on the truck that kept it from going over 55 had been tampered with (though it wasn’t a legal requirement and he was going slower than that).

Amazingly, when we voted at the end of the trial, I was the only person who thought the girl was the “main cause of the accident.” Until I pointed it out to them, nobody even considered how silly the claim about the asthma was. Nobody knows what the girl was thinking to cause her to make that turn because she died, but my fellow jurors didn’t quite notice that nifty ploy by her lawyer.

And I can’t believe that they fell for the “evil corporation” baloney. That lawyer had these knuckleheads believing everyone from the driver, to the leasing company, to the almond processor were so greedy that the poor girl was just another gnat on their way to riches. What a typical attitude, and one that America buys all the time!

To me the clincher was what they had to say about the lawyer for the defense. They actually described him as slimy and untrustworthy! All he did was go over the official police report that found the girl at fault and draw pictures on the board of how it occurred!

He certainly didn’t defame the names of everybody associated with the truck, assigning all matter of evil to their actions that day. He certainly didn’t make up out of thin air a reason that the girl did what she did! Slimy is the very adjective I would use to describe the family’s lawyer! Talk about having a skewed view of things!

I don’t know, maybe I am the stupid one. I mean, why blame the person who turned into the path of a truck for turning into the path of a truck!

Well, my fake jury “awarded” the girl’s family 13 million dollars (even though they all said, “You can’t put a price on human life”). A few weeks later, a real jury awarded 2 million and assigned only partial blame for the accident on the girl.

America, what a country!


jody said...

sounds pretty cut and dry to me. i would love to hear the other jurors reasoning for their vote. must not of had to be an unanimous one. unreal....


Jackington said...

That is amazing. We live in a country full of sue-happy people and juries go right along with them. Nothing makes you feel better than when you "stick it to the man" and award someone millions of dollars for being stupid.