Open Secrets Lawyers Keep

NOTE–the link is outdated, but the whole article is posted previous to this one.

Quote of the Day:     “Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.”    — Edmund Burke

Every voter in Mississippi should read this article.  Then each can decide on their on if they give a damn or not.

 MS Supreme Court Bias

What the author has described is the number one open secret in legal circles in Mississippi.  I’ve yet to meet a lawyer representing a plaintiff who has not heard this in settlement negotiations:  “Go ahead and get your verdict.  You know we’ll get it reversed on appeal.”  And we do know that.  

But on a somewhat lighter note, there are other secrets that lawyers know but juries and the general populace don’t.  Like the magician that revealed his profession’s tricks, I may be reviled and rejected by my peers for exposing these, but I figure I can sex it up a bit and sell it to FOX if they disbar me.  Ok, sex it up a lot.  A whole lot.

Do you want to be on a jury?  Here’s how to do it.  Sit down and shut up.  If you speak during voir dire, when the lawyers ask the jury panel questions, you have a good chance to be knocked off.  One side won’t like you.  If you are silent, they don’t know and you will be overlooked when the lawyers go about the process of selecting jurors.  Actually, what they do is reject jurors.  Whoever the first 12 leftovers are after everyone possible is knocked off gets on a jury.  So if you want off jury duty instead of on, simply say something like, I would award this person one billion dollars no matter what.  Or, I think all Plaintiff lawyers are agents of sin.  Or, I have an uncontrollable flatulence problem.

Here’s another secret about a large majority of lawsuits.  As a juror or a newspaper reader, you will hear that Road Runner got a huge verdict against Acme Corp and their product tester W. E. Coyote.  In reality, Acme and W.E. were only involved in a fraction of the case.  The case is really against Acme’s insurance company who’s raison d’etre is to collect Acme’s premiums and keep them forever.  They are as likely to reject a claim from Acme in the event of a factory explosion as they are to pay Road Runner’s medical bills if W.E. takes him out falling off a cliff with a defective rocket pack.  The insurance company hires the lawyer, dictates the settlement posture and oversees the whole process.

But lest I give the impression the insurance man only tortures his insured and the injured bird, I must reveal that he also torments the very lawyer he chooses.  Yes the defense lawyer is handsomely compensated, but often must wait 6 months to a year–I’m aware of some firms who have been 18 months behind being paid on occasion.  And when they are paid, they find hours and hours of time simply red-lined from the bill and ignored.  Here comes another secret–no defense firm is giving up a nickel of its work.  They simply change the wording in their bills and pile on additional, often unnecessary work to the file, thus extending the misery for Judge, opposing lawyer, all parties and the courthouse staff.

Everyone in Mississippi knows that juries in certain counties have a reputation as plaintiff friendly venues. I’d say there are about 10 to 12 counties that rightly have that reputation.  But the big secret is, of Mississippi’s 70-72 other counties, extremely defense friendly juries exist in probably 60.  We have maybe, maybe 10 counties in the state without a strong bias one way or the other.

And possibly the biggest secret of all–fangs–I meant to say, the vast majority of lawyers are really decent, often interesting and caring folks.  They want nothing more than a fair judge, jury and appellate court to be in place so they can practice the way they thought they would be able to back in law school.  And sadly, for lawyers of my generation (15 years or less experience), we’ve never known such a system.

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About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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13 Responses to Open Secrets Lawyers Keep

  1. Publius says:

    You are so out of the club. Kidding. I sometimes wonder if there’s still a place for Atticus Finch in today’s legal profession.

  2. I should never have been a member of any club that would have me in the first place.

  3. jessieloumcfaul says:

    Proving once again it is the quiet ones that must be watched.

  4. Josue says:

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