So, a client asked me the other day about how it is determined whether a judge or jury hears their case. I started to explain the process. Essentially, when we file a complaint, the document which tells the defendant what they did wrong and what our client is claiming, we can either request a jury and pay $100, or we don't do anything, and the judge will hear the case. That is, unless the Defendant demands a jury when the answer to our complaint is filed.
That made me think a bit about the process and tort reform. We have decided lately that our clients are better off having judges hear some of our cases as opposed to a jury. So, we don't demand a jury. In fact, in a recent medical malpractice case I filed, I did not demand a jury, but guess what? The defendant hospital did.
Well, doesn't that beg the question? Why would the medical profession be demanding caps on damages because juries have gone wild with their verdicts, and yet, when we don't demand a jury, they pay the $100 fee and demand the jury. If juries are rendering such outlandish verdicts, why do the defendants want to have a jury, as opposed to a judge, hear their case and rule upon their damages?
I really cannot explain the answer except for the fact that their marketing efforts regarding tort reform have worked, and therefore, juries are giving less and less damages in their verdicts. But for that fact, it is unexplainable.
Next time you hear someone talking about the crazy juries, ask them why defendants want juries to hear their cases.