OP-ED: Call Your State Senator and Leave Message to “VOTE NO ON SENATE BILL 2”

Protect Your Rights to Full Compensation for Injuries and C

 “Vote No on Senate Bill 2”

Your right to a trial by jury of your peers is under siege.

I encourage every citizen to contact their Kentucky State Senator and ask them to “Vote No on Senate Bill 2”.

Please do so quickly since there may be a vote this Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.

How:

Call toll free 1-800-372-7181; say you wish to leave a message for your Senator. To make sure the message gets to the right person, you will be asked your name, your address, and then your message.

The Message: “Vote No on Senate Bill 2”

When: Now.

What: Senate Bill 2 is an attempt to change the Constitution to our the state legislature to limit your right to full compensation for harms and losses you, a loved one, or a neighbor would be asking of a jury when injured by the carelessness of another. This includes wrongful death, car collisions, medical negligence, and legal negligence among other things.

The proposal would change our Kentucky Constitution to give the Legislature the right to set a cap for the maximum amount you could receive from a jury in your county. For example, if a parent is killed in a terrible collision, then the amounts that would go to the children could be limited by the state and not the jury regardless of the amount your children would otherwise be entitled to under the law as determined by a jury.

For example, if you were crippled and confined to your home and never work again, then the legislature could set a limit on your lost income in the future, your pain and suffering you have endured and will endure for the rest of your life, your future requirements for medical attention and rehabilitation. All of which you will need to get your life somewhat closer to what it was before you were harmed.

The real question is who do you trust better to do the right thing for you, your family and friends? People who live in the community or a group of representatives who have little accountability to you and who are subjected to enormous pressure and lobbying from those interested in capping the amount they would otherwise be obligated to pay. These would be the same people who caused and still cannot fix our pension crisis.

Why:

Your right to a jury trial is very, very important. It’s in our federal and state constitutions. Your local jury is the conscience or YOUR community. They are the ones who will hear the case, understand the injuries, and see costs you will require to compensate you. It is that simple.

More importantly, the jury system is not broken and is working fine and the change will not benefit you at all but rather will benefit those who have injured someone carelessly by allowing them to escape their responsibility and their financial obligation by paying less than you might otherwise be entitled.

Remember the law now is that you have a right to be made whole and be put as close to where you were before you were hurt. You may have pain, medical expenses, rehabilitation therapy, vocational training and more.

It is very important to know that these potential caps will hurt those who will need it more and is exorbitantly unfair.

The caps should not affect minor cases or injury recoveries. But, they would hurt those who have lost a family member or have received devastating and crippling injuries since the wrongdoer and their insurance would get a free pass and put the money in their own pockets.

I am not saying the legislature would intentionally hurt you by placing caps, but the potential for harm by those in Frankfort is too great for me to want them having any more control over my life at a time when I needed help the most.

Remember if you do not get the full amount you are entitled to, then you will need to look somewhere for help. Family and friends; government aid; or charity. This is demeaning and not fair to you or your family. And requiring other taxpayers and charities to pick up a tab for the negligent harm caused by another is also terribly wrong.

Trust me, there are already plenty enough cases and injuries out there where the wrongdoer has no money or insurance to make it right. We really should not be adding the problem to allow folks a free ride on their wrongdoing.

Here is a link to the law:

“Are you in favor of permitting the General Assembly to: (1) Place limits on the amount to be recovered for injuries resulting in death; (2) Place limits on the amount to be recovered for injuries to person or property; and (3) Create statutes of limitations or statutes of repose as to how long after the incident a law suit may be commenced?”

If the state can make such a mess of government pensions and other matters then who would want them deciding what you will need as determined by a jury who will have heard the evidence, heard from you and heard from the doctors

Trust a jury to do the right thing is what I want. The jury is in the absolute best position to know.

This is not the wild wild west. In a jury trial, there is much investigation. At trial there will be a judge making everyone follow the law with the wrongdoer represented by a lawyer who will fight tooth and nail to see that his client pays as little as possible. And the jurors will take an oath to follow the law.

VOTE NO ON SENATE BILL 2.

Attorney Sidebar: Clarence Darrow on Fighting Power, Injustice and Oppression

~ Clarence Darrow

When Clarence Darrow was tried for subornation of perjury, he told jury in his own defense —

I have committed one crime… Which cannot be forgiven. I have stood for the weak and the poor. I have stood for [those] who toil.… I have lived my life, and I fought my battles, not against the weak and the poor – anybody can do that – but against power, against injustice, against oppression.…

~ Clarence Darrow, Attorney for the Damned, pages 496-497.

Commentary:

Recent events now remind us now more than ever of the critical role played by juries, lawyers, and the right to a jury trial.  Not only their criticality in affording justice for every person who is equal before the law, but their place in our Constitutional government.  The judiciary is a separate and equal branch of our government.  It is no less important than the other two branches.  The judiciary is not just the appellate judges in robes handing out opinions from on high, but includes the judges toiling day to day in our court administering the rule of law faithfully, dispassionately, and fairly.

Trial judges do this  not just with opinions and rulings from the bench, but in their roles at jury trials as one of the three legs that hold up the separate but equal branch of our government — the Constitutional Right to a trial by jury.  The other two legs of a jury trial are the trial lawyers’  and the individual jurors who make up the jury.  Their roles are  a reminder all of us of the protections required and afforded to ALL of our citizens in keeping liberty and freedom secure.  Not just criminal and civil defendants.  When justice is afforded to an individual defendant in the exercise of their right to a jury trial, we ALL benefit from those blessing of liberty and freedom from injustices.

The Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury ….

The Seventh Amendment:

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

And the right to a jury trial is composed of three key players:

  • Judge
  • Jury/jurors
  • Lawyers

Without these three supporting foundations, then our protections against an overreaching law enforcement agency (eg., FBI), denials of equal justice and rights, government oppression or passage of laws violating our Constitution would be vastly different.

So, all of us should protect their independence, their role and and their place in a free society.  This is not just me, it’s the law.  Constitutional Law.

Postscript on special prosecutors.

Some argue that the Founding Fathers committed a misstep by placing the criminal investigator powers of the federal government in the executive branch.  I disagree.  The other two branches are not well-suited, and a check and balance was provided against the executive/President via impeachment and removal if necessary.  Also the Fourth Estate (a free and honest press, not the entertainment arm of the cable news channels but an investigator press that ferrets out the facts and reports on these facts, and of course I would prefer facts and not anonymous sources) should provide a check.

Thus, there are two enigmatic situations that have developed:

First, we should all be thankful about the press and media breaking of stories of potential corruption, biased investigation for/or against citizens, and Fourth Amendment violations and crimes.  It is too soon to tell, but the risk of ignoring and sweeping under the rug is a recipe for chaos and disaster.

Second, the special prosecutor should not be investigating anything associated with the president. I say this because the risk of the FBI crossing the political lines and being used as a usurpation of Congressional authority and their role in impeachment and removal of the president is disingenuous and also violates the Constitution.  The President is the executive. He can remove any person appointed in the executive department for any reason.  POTUS nominates, supervises, and removes those whose nominations have been approved by the Senate (and those not requiring Senate approval).

Any investigation into the Presidency by any government entity is an abuse of power and irresponsible.  The House can investigate, bring a bill of impeachment, and if passed, it goes to the Senate for the removal decision.

 

 

Attorney Sidebar: The Importance of Trial by Jury to Constitutional Accountability

~ Thomas Jefferson

I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.

and

Trial by jury is part of the bright constellation which leads to peace, liberty and safety.

Thomas Jefferson reminds us that our right to trial by jury is critical to our Constitution, our government, our peace, our liberty and our safety.

Think about the negative implications when the accountability afforded by a jury trial is impinged by the acts of the government whether by legislation or rule making.  This would include legislation to cap jury verdicts which distrusts a jury of one’s peers, the conscience of the community, and deprives those suffering losses to bear the cost of another’s negligence.

Bushell’s Case decided back in 1670 demonstrates how government treated juries as rubber stamps of the Crown’s decision and those of the presiding judge, the controls on peaceful assembly, free speech and pursuit of religious liberty all wrapped up in one when Quakers speaking in front of Grace Street Church in London.  Jurors died for the preservation of this right, and withstood physical confinement and deprivations rather than be told to render a verdict that was unjust simply because that was what the presiding judge directed they do!

The above link is to the facts, but if you want a telling and spell-binding recitation that goes in to the events and the travails of the jurors, then read “I Remember Atticus: Inspiring Stories Every Trial Lawyer Should Know” by Jim M. Perdue.

“Find Your Passion”, A TEDx Video Talk by Gerry Spence

Gerry Spence is not just an awesomely successful trial lawyer, but a true believer in justice, the jury system, and fighting to protect the people.

Famed trial attorney and Founder of the Trial Lawyers CollegeGerry Spence, knows a little about passion. Passion for life. Passion for a cause. A “passion for fighting for the people.”

Here is a share of a video, I found today about his TEDx talk at TEDxJacksonHole. There are more talks on “passion” and other topics [http://www.tedxjacksonhole.org]; but his talk on passion addresses justice, trial lawyers, and providing a voice to the powerless in his fight for the people and representing the less fortunate against the rich and powerful.

I supply this post because Gerry is an excellent speaker even after all these years and at this age. He’s a motivation speaker on justice and trial lawyers.

I had the privilege a few years back to meet him and speak with him. I even have a picture taken with him when we were both a little younger.

But consistent with this post is a little more on the motivational side of the house at the beginning of a new year. The beginning of a new year with a host of resolutions. And an end of year when we look back and reflect. A time to look to the future and see where and what we want to be and how we wish to get there, be there, and stay there.

Every business should have a “noble purpose”. Something more than making money, but covers your passion. By passion, I am not talking about the common meanings associated with love and ardor for a person, but a less common meaning. A meaning used often but not sure exactly what it means. By the way, “noble purpose” is not my slogan. It was key to a book by Lisa Earle McLeod whose web page with more details on her books is http://www.mcleodandmore.com/…/noble-purpose-strategy-not-…/. BTW this is a link to her about page which summarize what I am saying. You can figure out in more detail why I feel this is a fitting post at the start of 2017.

What is your passion in life? That which is a strong enthusiasm for something or anything that means something to you. My added point to this is do you have a passion that energizes you, brings that smile, puts pep in that step? Few do…. Many want.

#GerrySpence#TedXJacksonHole#TortReform

And as Thomas Jefferson so eloquently stated – “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

This video on passion and trial warriors protecting each of us from the powerful is an eloquent and persuasive argument against voting away your right to a jury trial and the protection if afford your family and friends and others for the putative promise of saving a few pennies on your insurance premiums and a few more bucks for your doctors.