The Vanishing Jury Trial and the Texas Supreme Court

It’s no secret that jury trials are disappearing. In fact, Texas Supreme Court justice Nathan Hecht had a cover article in a recent Texas Bar Journal article addressing the problem. In the article Hecht provided his own hypotheses about the cause of the problem. But the truth is, Hecht and his brethren at the Supreme Court are the cause of the problem as they continually disregard jury verdicts and substitute their own versions of the facts to render opinions in cases.

One recent case was presented to the court in Coca Cola Company v. Harmar Bottling Company. In that case, twelve jurors and a later reviewing appellate court all found that enough evidence was presented to support the trial court’s verdict. Not surprising, the Supreme Court disagreed. Not only did they disagree with the jury, but they barely took the time in the opinion to explain why.

Baylor law school professor Gerald Powell has apparently seen enough. Professor Powell, on his own time and at his own expense, filed an amicus brief with the Court “because of his interest in the preservation of the right to trial by jury.” Professor Powell’s brilliant brief addresses the appellate courts’ role in the disappearing jury trial and specifically rebuts the Supreme Court’s decision in Harmar. Professor Powell’s brief concludes:

When appellate courts commandeer the jury’s role as fact-finder, the right to trial by jury is shaken….Every time a court takes away a jury verdict, the foundation shakes and trembles.

If appellate courts so freely reverse jury verdicts, then there is little chance that trial by jury can long endure so unstable a foundation. Each tremor is an alarm to us all — it is a siren warning of the widening chasm ahead.

I urge everyone interested in civil justice issues to reach Professor Powell’s amicus.

Additionally, for US District Judge Sam Sparks’ thoughts on the same issue, click here.

To contact Austin Personal Injury Lawyer, Austin Personal Attorney, Austin Accident Lawyer, Austin Injury Lawyer Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC or to learn more about Austin Personal Injury visit http://www.civtrial.com/.

Car Wrecks: Property Damage Claims

Brooks recently conducted a short interview for News 8 Austin discussing the handling of property damage claims following a car wreck.  To watch the video, click here, and then hit the play button in the “watch the video” box.

To contact Austin Personal Injury Lawyer, Austin Personal Attorney, Austin Accident Lawyer, Austin Injury Lawyer Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC or to learn more about Austin Personal Injury visit http://www.civtrial.com/.

Presidential Hopefuls on Tort Reform

In the wake of the President’s State of the Union address, the Illinois Justice Project had a short rundown of the 2008 presidential candidates’ views on tort reform.  The post should be interesting to anyone interested in civil justice issues.

Thanks to the TortsProf blog for the link.

To contact Austin Personal Injury Lawyer, Austin Personal Attorney, Austin Accident Lawyer, Austin Injury Lawyer Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC or to learn more about Austin Personal Injury visit http://www.civtrial.com/.

The Tort System’s Effect on the Economy

The Day on Torts Blog has a link to an interesting article from the Economic Policy Institute (a non-partisan economic think tank). The article, Tort Costs and The Economy; Myths, Exaggerations, and Propaganda, includes findings that the US legal system doesn’t slow job growth, that tort reform won’t increase employment, that the tort system doesn’t have significant effects on research and development or productivity, and that the tort system doesn’t have any effects on health care costs or US corporate profits. On the contrary, the study finds that the tort system is important to the economy.

To contact Austin Personal Injury Lawyer, Austin Personal Attorney, Austin Accident Lawyer, Austin Injury Lawyer Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC or to learn more about Austin Personal Injury visit http://www.civtrial.com/.

Austin Auto Wrecks — Fighting Driver Inattention

The risks of driver inattention have been well documented. As far back as February 1997, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study finding that people who drive while talking on cell phones are four times more likely to be in car wrecks than others. And we suspect the same type of results would be found if studies were done on people eating, putting on makeup, or the old standby — reading — while driving.

Apparently the Austin Police Department has had enough. After finding that driver inattention is one of, if not the, leading cause of daytime wrecks, they pursued a unique partnership with University of Texas advertising students to develop campaigns to inform Austin residents about the risks of driver inattention. The students have come up with unique campaigns that the APD says should be hitting the airwaves in the new year.   With any luck, the ads may make Austin’s streets a little safer for all of us.

To watch a Fox 7 news report on the partnership, click here.

To contact Austin Personal Injury Lawyer, Austin Personal Attorney, Austin Accident Lawyer, Austin Injury Lawyer Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC or to learn more about Austin Personal Injury visit http://www.civtrial.com/.

Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC maintains offices in Austin, Texas. However, our attorneys and lawyers represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Forth Worth, El Paso, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lockhart, Bastrop, Elgin, Manor, Brenham, Cedar Park, Burnet, Marble Falls, Temple and Killeen. By Brooks Schuelke


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