Last year, shareholder A. Michelle Jernigan served on a jury at the Orange County (Fla.) Courthouse. This series offers a glimpse of how a mediator thinks in a situation like this. (See Part 5 at www.uww-adr.com/uncategorized/jury-duty-with-a-mediator-mindset-part-5-jurors-interviews.) More questions? Call on Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or (407) 661-1123. Would you like to reserve a mediation time with Michelle? Visit our scheduling page or contact case manager Cathy McCleary (email@example.com).
Florida Mediator and UWWM Shareholder Michelle Jernigan
Serving as a juror was a fascinating experience. I wish I had not been excused as the alternate so I could have been on the inside of the jury process from beginning to end. I appreciated the time and input of the two jurors I interviewed. They were respectful and responsive and made it possible for me to write this article.
Not only did I have the opportunity to see how a jury values a particular case, but also I gained insight into their thinking and decision making. Some of my assumptions were shaken; others were confirmed.
I was concerned about the actual size of the pothole. This jury recognized that it was large enough to cause the damage complained of, so conflicts in testimony regarding the size did not bother them. This jury did not concern itself with minor inconsistencies in testimony, whereas my legal mind did. This jury did not seek to distinguish between symptoms from prior injuries and this one, whereas I did. This jury did not fall prey to the adage that juries are emotional and unpredictable. This jury saw through expert witnesses who were not credible. This jury did have sympathy for the plaintiff, but did not seek to punish the defendant. This jury was not concerned with reviewing medical records; my legal mind would have forced me to at least peruse them.
I knew the settlement range for a case like this; the jury did not. While I knew the verdict was on the high side, they were concerned that they did not award enough.
In mediation, I often attempt to help parties and lawyers stay focused on the big picture and not get too “caught in the weeds.” That is what the jury did in this case. They did not examine the evidence microscopically and then piece it together. They flew overhead and viewed the case from 30,000 feet. Perhaps the next time the lawyers in my cases get caught up in the weeds, I will take them flying. Thirty-thousand feet sounds like a good height to me.