July 8, 2011

The jury trial of Casey Anthony involving allegations that she killed her young daughter ended in not guilty findings on the most serious charges just a few days ago. The not guilty findings do not mean that the jury found that Casey Anthony did not kill her daughter, it means that the prosecution did not convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Casey Anthony committed the killing for which she was charged. As the self-promoting media continues to spin the not guilty verdicts in order to continue the ratings frenzy that the media has enjoyed, there are some lessons that can be learned that are relevant to medical malpractice claims and medical malpractice trials.  

It is becoming increasingly clear as more of the jurors relent to media demands for explanations in the Casey Anthony trial that they took their responsibilities as jurors very seriously. They listened carefully to the jury instructions provided by the trial judge and they applied those instructions methodically to the evidence and testimony that they heard during the weeks-long trial. Although much of the testimony and evidence provided to the jury were emotionally charged,  it appears that the jurors were able to separate their emotions from their jury obligations. They analyzed the facts and expert testimony they were provided during the trial with both logic and a commitment that they disregard how their decisions may be viewed by the public whose senses and sensibilities were being constantly molded by the “talking heads” who constantly appeared in all forms of media, including television talk shows that spanned the spectrum from Fox News Network (including repeated references to Casey Anthony as “tot mom”) to CNN, and Internet blogs that ranged from disdain to threats of physical harm for anyone who questioned whether Casey Anthony would be found guilty of murder by the jury.  

Because the nearly-uniform message of the media helped form the nearly-universal public opinion that the Casey Anthony jury would inevitably find her guilty of first-degree murder, the jury’s decision shocked many of the true-believers. The talking-heads, who constantly yelled at anyone who would listen (and there were a lot who listened) their unchallenged knowing that Casey was guilty, guilty, guilty, needed to protect their egos and reputations after the jury made its decisions by condemning not only the not guilty findings but also the jurors themselves. These self-proclaimed media celebrity experts could not accept the fact that 12 independent fellow citizens whose diversity (men, women, and people of different ages and different life experiences) represented the diversity of the community, and who did not “have a horse in this race” by pre-judging the criminal case every day based on that day’s trial testimony, could separate their emotions from their duty to apply the law to the evidence that they were presented.

Many of these same media mouthpieces have found that by attacking medical malpractice claimants, by blindly defending medical malpractice defendants without knowing the particular facts of the particular malpractice claims, and by repeatedly using the phrase “frivolous lawsuits” when mouthing the words “medical malpractice,” they can arouse the emotions of reasonable persons by instilling unreasonable fears that their doctors will leave their medical practices and leave them without a source of medical care if doctors who have been found by a jury to have provided negligent medical care that caused harm to their patients are held fully accountable for the full cost of the injuries and damages they negligently caused. The fear harks back to the days of adolescence when children in the back seats of their parents’ car were threatened at one time or another with being left on the side of the road if they did not stop their unruly behavior (who doesn’t remember arguing with sibling(s) in the back seat during a roadtrip when the driver threatened, “I’ll pulled this car over if you don’t stop arguing” or “you’ll regret it if I have to stop this car”?).

The Casey Anthony jury teaches us and confirms for us once again that juries are the lynch-pin of our judicial system and that the jury system works. Arbitrary and capricious restrictions that many states have placed on the jury’s right to hear and decide cases and to award monetary damages based on the evidence and testimony provided to them are the equivalent of parents actually pulling the car over, unloading their raucous children, and pulling the car back onto the highway and pulling away. If parents actually carried through with their threats to leave their children on the side of the road , they would be universally condemned by the media. But where is the media outrage when medical malpractice “tort reformers” abandon innocent victims of medical malpractice on the side of the road?

Next time someone wants to take away or limit your rights when you’re injured through no fault of your own, speak up before you are left on the side of the road!

If you, a family member, or a friend were injured by the medical malpractice of a negligent health care provider, visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your area who may be able to assist you with your medical malpractice claim or call us toll free 800-295-3959.