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Bob Carroll
Bob Carroll
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A GOP Crusader Against Our Civil Justice System

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Conservatism is now being defined as a crusade to reform tort litigation.

Being conservative used to mean protecting the right of the wrongfully injured to redress in our civil courts, preserving trial by a jury of fellow citizens, the development of the common law on a case by case basis over 100’s of years and respect for the work of both plaintiff and defense attorneys. The new conservatism being espoused by the Republican Party calls tort litigation a version of the deadliest Medieval plague and methodically trashes every aspect of the civil justice system in order to protect the wallets of corporate America.

Exhibit A is an essay posted at GOPUSA. Today I will quote only two paragraphs.

The Next Conservatism: Tort Litigation Reform

By Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq.

As the multibillion dollar fiasco of tort litigation gone wild spreads like an economic and cultural “dumb-down” version of the deadliest Medieval plague, conservatives must lead the charge – and a rather militant charge at that – in attempting reform.

Who are these jurors? It’s not “politically correct” to characterize a group of people. Yet in analyzing a group, as distinguished from analyzing individuals, some profiling is essential. Jurors in these civil tort cases must pass investigation by, and usually Q&A (“voir dire”) with, the attorneys trying the case. Plaintiffs’ contingency-fee attorneys by and large are a competent coterie, especially skilled at analyzing, and playing to, jurors. People-skills are vital; many of them are “working psychologists.” The ideal plaintiffs’ tort juror is (1) a sympathetic or charitable individual – “good” guy or gal; (2) susceptible to a skillful emotional pitch; (3) without demanding employment, hence able to sit through days, weeks or months of testimony (often retired or a worker whose employer pays him or gives administrative leave); (4) somewhat low on the assets and income scale – and more particularly, with scant comprehension of the value of huge dollars; (5) inexperienced in business, medicine or whatever the defendant’s activity; and (6) somewhat intelligent but not bright enough to see through to the realities, much less to understand anything sophisticated, technical or otherwise complicated – a person nobody would hire to perform a task related to any profession, skill, technology, business or pursuit involved in the tort case.

Ms. Harrison’s view of the ideal plaintiffs’ tort juror may or may not be true in a given case. However, she forgets to mention that during the “voir dire” there is also one or, more frequently, several defense attorneys who are attempting to populate the eventual jury with the ideal defense tort juror. I don’t need to list the characteristics favored by defense attorneys. It is sufficient to say that they need to think and talk a lot like Ms. Harrison.

If Ms. Harrison is able to poison the thinking of those who call themselves conservative, she and her fellow tort reform crusaders will have found the Holy Grail. They will have disabled or dismantled one of the most important institutions in our country, our civil justice system. It would then be the dawn of a new day in America – a darker day from the Middle Ages.