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New Thread - Jury Trials

3 months ago

Not wanting to hijack rob333's thread about being called for jury duty, I'm starting a new thread. :-)

"I'm not sure that jury trials are such a good idea. The number of dingdongs I've encountered in my jury experiences sometimes leaves the ultimate outcome of trials in the hands of people who don't seem to have the capability of following the judge's instructions and making good decisions. It makes me question the reliance on the general public to administer laws they often don't understand with fact patterns that can be unclear or in dispute."

Well said, Elmer.

OK, folks, here's a scenario to ponder and then a question...

There is a one-car accident. The accident injures the driver and his passengers. The driver has good insurance with a high policy limit. However, the insurance company doesn't want to pay anything to the passengers for their injuries, so a lawsuit is filed. It goes to trial. During the trial, the driver admits that he wasn't paying attention to where his car was headed, as his attention was directed to an object in the opposite direction. (Example - driver is looking out the driver-side window at a dog, so he doesn't realize that he is steered too far to the right and, as a result, he runs into a parked car.) Before the jury begins deliberations, the judge reads "jury instructions" to them. One of the instructions has to do with what's referred to as the "reasonable man" theory. Merriam-Webster defines it thusly:

  • a fictional person with an ordinary degree of reason, prudence, care, foresight, or intelligence whose conduct, conclusion, or expectation in relation to a particular circumstance or fact is used as an objective standard by which to measure or determine something (as the existence of negligence)

LawShelf says:

  • In an action for negligence, the reasonable man test asks what the “reasonable person of ordinary prudence” would have done in the defendant's situation. Because this is an objective test, we do not care what was going through the defendant's mind when he committed his act or omission.

Forbes defines is this way:

  • The concept is often used in civil cases that involve negligence. Consider, for example, a case involving a driver running a red light and causing an accident. A reasonable person doesn't drive through red lights, so if the driver did so, the jury would hold them responsible for any harm caused.

OK, here's the question -- would you find the defendant (the driver) guilty of negligence, or not guilty?

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