Brigham Cluff explains why he things everything you think you know about Juries is wrong.
Hi, this is Brigham Cluff. This is my seventh video in my series All About Arizona Juries: Everything you think you know about juries is wrong.
Now, people are under the belief that juries are very easy on criminals and very hard on corporations. Certainly I can understand where they get that belief because the media certainly would lead one to these false conclusions.
The reality of the situation is it’s just the opposite. Juries do not want to see guilty people go free. Members of the juries, they take those responsibilities that they have very seriously and they don’t want to let guilty people go free on their watch. They see it as their job to protect society from guilty people. I would say that there is a bias, a tendency to want to convict defendants in criminal cases.
Now, you see the opposite phenomenon happening in civil cases people have this belief that there’s a lot of runaway verdicts out there, that juries are just giving away money on these crazy cases that have no merit. That’s really not how juries operate.
Juries are composed of reasonable people. People don’t want to give a bunch of money to people who don’t deserve it. In fact, the natural bias is to really guard against that. They don’t want to take money from somebody who they think hasn’t done anything wrong and give it to someone that they think doesn’t deserve it.
If you were to go and spend a good amount of time in a courthouse and watching lots of trials take place, in all likelihood you would come away from that experience believing just the opposite of what the common belief with. What you would come away believing is that juries are pretty tough on crime and they are also pretty tough on plaintiffs. They really want to make you prove your case if you are the plaintiff. Actually, as I stated in one of the earlier videos, I think juries make the right decision.
I’ve spoken to judges who are in a better position that probably just about anybody else in the world to know what juries do with cases, and it’s been very comforting to me in talking to judges to know that judges agree with the decisions that juries are making, and they see cases in all of the detail that the juries see and at the end of the day or at the end of the trial, I should say, they’re making decisions that judges agree with.
Okay, in conclusion, there’s two points that I want to make here about our jury system as it relates specifically to personal injury and wrongful death cases. The first point I want to make to plaintiffs, the second point I really want to make to the public at large.
First point is plaintiffs. You should certainly not go into your case or approach a trial under the mistaken notion that if you can just get in front of a jury, they’re going to be dying to give you a lot of money. Juries take their responsibilities very seriously and they make sure that plaintiffs prove their cases. If anything, juries are a bit stingy when it comes to giving out the money.
That ties in to the second point that I want to make to the public in general. I don’t want there to be a lack of confidence among the public in our jury system. We need to have buy-in from our citizenry in order to sustain our justice system. I’m concerned that there is a misunderstanding in the public about what juries are doing.
There’s a belief in the public that juries are giving away runaway verdicts, verdicts that don’t make any sense, giving a ton of money to plaintiffs who don’t deserve it, taking away from defendants who haven’t done anything wrong. That’s not how our juries operate.
Juries take their responsibilities very seriously and they make the right decision. The only way that you are going to be able to truly experience that for yourself, and if I may circle back around to my first video, is to serve on a jury yourself. Please watch all of my videos in my series “All About Arizona Juries” and I’d be happy to have feedback from you and I’ll reply to any comments I receive.