Top 5 Trial Secrets That Every Juror Should Know… But What Trial Attorneys Cannot Say
First time juror? I’m guessing you have a pretty good idea what to expect: sit in a packed room (pre-COVID) waiting to be excused without getting to be involved in the trial. Civic duty satisfied. But, for the lucky ones who actually get impaneled onto a jury, here is what you absolutely MUST KNOW but what every trial attorney can never say during trial.
Please Note: If I look familiar, meaning, you are on my jury, you should stop reading this.
#5: Jurors Cannot Do Electronic Research During Trial
“Spoiler Alert: 99% of all verdicts are paid for by the at-fault parties insurance company. But, you'll never know this during trial.”
This isn’t much a secret since the judge will tell everyone from the get-go but it’s worth mentioning. The Jury Instructions state: “Do not investigate this case on your own.” That includes meaning you cannot look anything up related to the case or trial on the Internet.
So, again, if you’re my juror you’re not supposed to be reading this right now. In fact, you’re in direct violation of the Court’s orders. But, common sense says most folks are going to dig, just a little so here you are. If you are my juror, I really do need you to stop. You're welcome to come back after the trial.
The reason for this instruction is simple: all evidence comes from the witness stand. Jurors are not supposed to become Sherlock Holmes, go to the scene, interrogate witnesses and come to their own—albeit logical—conclusions.
If you're the type to do this sort of thing you should work at a law firm. I'm always looking for smart people.
#4: What Attorneys Say Is Not Evidence
The law says, “What the attorneys say during the trial is not evidence.”
Then how come the attorneys are the ones doing most of the talking? Great question. This instruction is, again, meant to show that all evidence comes from the witness stand and has zero to do with what the attorneys wish the evidence was.
Here’s a tip: when an attorney starts personalizing, starts talking about themselves, their family, their beliefs, this is all improper. Focus on what comes from the witness stand and not the ones with fancy watches, purses or shoes in court. That being said, don't blame clients for their fashionable attorneys. #LegallyChic
#3: Defense “Paid-For” Experts
“The well-dressed man or woman who comes up with lots of degrees but can't answer a straight question about whether you could be hurt if an elephant fell on your head."
When defense counsel tells you they brought an “expert” to trial let me be very, very clear—they are bought and paid for by the insurance industry. They are made multi-millionaires by coming into court, every week, across the state, all to say the same thing: this injury could not have happened or this injury isn’t as bad as all the other doctors are saying it is. In all honesty, if these doctors were actually treating folks outside of this legal world their opinions would be drastically different.
What does that mean? There are "treating" physicians and "paid-for" experts. The "paid-for" doctor does not treat the patient, does not give a diagnosis, does not owe the Hippocratic oath to the patient, and can't be sued by the patient for malpractice. They are paid to give an opinion. Most are highly educated with great pedigrees, but money does interesting things.
Yes, the plaintiff (the injured person) will have one or more "paid-for" experts. But, those experts are standing behind the patient's actual treating physicians. As opposed to the defense's bought and "paid-for" experts who try to pretend the treating doctor doesn't matter.
Seems like defense experts won't commit to "rain is wet" or "the sky is blue." They can make their answers so long-winded you think there must be an answer in there. But, things like restating questions before answering and other evasive tactics are red flags that they're not being straight with you.
Every witness swears an oath to tell the truth. It's up to every juror to weigh the credibility of the witness (expert or otherwise) and see what makes most sense.
#2: Who Is The Puppet At Defense’s Table?
“The person at defense table is probably NOT the defendant—it's the insurance company puppet placed their for sympathy."
This one is confusing. The person(s) sitting at defense counsel’s table is not always the defendant. A reminder, the “defendant” is defending the case. They are the party who failed to follow a safety rule and caused harm. Sometimes both the plaintiff (the injured person bringing the case) and the defendant can share responsibility. This is referred to as comparative negligence and supported by Texas law.
In Texas, the share of fault determines the share of the verdict. For example, if the jury comes back with a $1,000,000 verdict and says the wreck was 40% plaintiff's fault and 60% the company's fault (30% the driver + 30% the employer), that means the judge subtracts 40% from the verdict. With our $1,000,00 verdict, that would mean the plaintiff would really only take home $600,000 ($1million-40%).
When the defendant is a business, the actual wrongdoer—for example, the actual employee who caused the wreck—is not even in court. Instead, you may have a corporate representative, manager, or someone else hired by their insurance company. Even better: the defense attorney(s) themselves are, you guessed it, hired by the insurance companies—rarely by the defendant themselves.
Why is this such a secret? Because the #1 biggest secret that they hide from all jurors is…
#1: Whose Paying For All Of This?
(Hint, plaintiff's lawyers usually get paid contingency, meaning only when we we win, so we don't take cases where if we win there's no money to pay us. Mama didn't raise no dummies.)
Unless it is a case specifically about insurance coverage, for example a person suing their own insurance company for benefits under their underinsured or uninsured insurance, Texas plaintiff's lawyers are strictly forbidden from mentioning the defendants have any insurance.
Of course, the defendant can bring it up. But, why would they? They want the jury to wonder about who is paying for all the defense “experts,” attorneys, years of litigation costs and trial. They want the jury to think, "maybe there's not any insurance" and come back with less. They want the jury to wonder, "maybe this is coming out of his own pocket."
So, who's paying? When you, the jury, bring a verdict in a case, 9.999 times out of 10 that verdict is paid by the insurance company. Against a large company, typically the company will have a deductible (called a retention) to pay, which is no different than you or me paying our insurance deductible, and then their insurance kicks in. The verdict brings no harm to the puppet the insurance companies sat next to defense counsel this whole time. If you’re reading this, you’ll know that everyone on the defense side is bought and paid for by the insurance company to manufacture a low verdict. Sometimes they even fool the jurors, but not anymore.
Now you know. Insurance pays for everything but won’t pay for justice until the jury brings a verdict. Even after a verdict the insurance company will appeal the verdict (bring another lawsuit to a higher court) to drag the case out another few years… starving the injured party of justice until the defense gets a discount. That’s why we’re in trial. That’s why we’re fighting so hard.
Next time you’re in court, you’ll know exactly who is sitting at defense counsel’s table, who orchestrated the trial, who refused to accept responsibility for all the harm they caused, who refused to pay for their wrongdoing, and who will pay the verdict.