Mississippi Litigation Review & Commentary

Mississippi Litigation Review & Commentary

Comments on the Latest Developments in Mississippi Civil Litigation

Philip is a trial attorney based in Jackson, Mississippi with a diverse civil litigation practice.

Category Archives: Improving the Jury System

Subscribe to Improving the Jury System RSS Feed

Clarion Ledger Looks at ‘Nonpartisan’ Judicial Elections–Concludes Appellate Judges Should be Appointed

Posted in Improving the Jury System, Politics in Mississippi
On Sunday Clarion Ledger reporter Jerry Mitchell examined Mississippi’s partisan ‘nonpartisan’ judicial elections. The article concluded with this happy thought from legal pioneer and former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson: Former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson also favors appointing judges and wishes Mississippi could select judges similar to the federal system. He called… Continue Reading

Miss. Court of Appeals Affirms Million-Plus Silica Verdict

Posted in Appellate Decisions From Jury Verdicts, Improving the Jury System, Mississippi Court of Appeals
On Tuesday the Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed a $1,095,000 Hinds County jury verdict in Barnett v. Miss. Valley Silica Co. Here is my brief post in October 2012 reporting on the verdict. The decedent worked near sandblasting at Miss. Iron and Steel Co. on High Street in Jackson. He alleged that Valley Silica failed… Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Juries Can be Recalled in Civil Cases

Posted in Improving the Jury System, U.S. Supreme Court
On Thursday in Dietz v. Bouldin, the Supreme Court ruled that federal district courts can recall jurors after identifying errors in deliberations. The decision involved the trial of a car wreck case in Florida. The defendant admitted liability and stipulated $10,136 in damages for plaintiff’s medical expenses. During deliberations, the jury sent out a note… Continue Reading

Mandatory Scheduling Orders and Trial Settings Coming to State Court?

Posted in Improving the Jury System, Mississippi Supreme Court
In what could be a major change for state court litigation, the Mississippi Supreme Court is requesting comments about proposed amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure. The proposals include mandatory scheduling orders and trial settings for civil actions. Here is the Court’s entire document on the proposals. Here is the Advisory Committee on Rules’… Continue Reading

The Fix is in?

Posted in General, Improving the Jury System
Judges might be appalled to know how much parties theorize that the judge ruled against them because “the other side got to the judge” or “the fix was in.” It doesn’t happen all the time. But it’s not particularly unusual either. People don’t like to contemplate that their side was wrong on an issue or… Continue Reading

Can Jurors Disregard the Law?

Posted in Improving the Jury System
Jury nullification is the concept of jurors ignoring the law and rendering a verdict based on which side the jury thinks should win, even if the verdict is contrary to the evidence and law. This recent Washington Post article covers an advertising campaign that promotes jury nullification. The article states: The billboard is part of… Continue Reading

Baker & McKenzie Reversal Proves that State Courts Should Reform Jury Instruction Procedures

Posted in Improving the Jury System
All nine Mississippi Supreme Court Justices agreed last week that the plaintiffs and cross plaintiffs proved fault in their legal malpractice case against mega firm Baker & McKenzie. But the case is headed for a new trial because of errors in how the trial court instructed the jury. This shows why Mississippi courts need to… Continue Reading

Another Voice Against Elected Judiciary– This One From an Elected Judge

Posted in Improving the Jury System
The Atlantic reported this week on elected Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett speaking out against the elected judicial system. Here are some of Justice Willett’s comments: The ACS study raises difficult and consequential questions, familiar questions that frankly can’t be raised enough. A former Texas Governor, Sull Ross, once said, “The loss of public… Continue Reading

Study Shows Why Appellate Judges Should be Appointed

Posted in Improving the Jury System
How Appealing noted a McClatchy article about a study that concluded that business donations to elected judges leads to business friendly rulings.  The study that the article discusses concludes: The growing importance of money in judicial elections gives interest groups the opportunity to shape the judiciary. Although any interest group that is able to marshal… Continue Reading

Study: Courts Should Not Rely on Rehabilitation that Jurors Can Be Fair

Posted in Improving the Jury System
Here is a study asking Can Jurors Self Diagnose Bias? Two Randomized Controlled Trials.” The study tries to determine whether the common practice of asking jurors who otherwise appear biased if they can be fair works to exclude biased jurors. The study concludes that it does not. If this is correct, then the common voir dire practice… Continue Reading

Miss. Supreme Court’s Reversal of $1 Million Jury Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case is Example of Why State Court Judges Need to Alter System for Formulating Jury Instructions

Posted in Appellate Decisions From Jury Verdicts, Improving the Jury System, Mississippi Supreme Court
As discussed at TBA last week, on Thursday the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded a 2011 jury verdict of $1 million in a Hinds County case. Plaintiff alleged medical malpractice against Dr. Charles Laney. Here is the Court’s opinion in Laney v. Vance. The facts of the case were not important for purposes of the Court’s opinion.… Continue Reading

Book Review: Fixing the Engine of Justice, Diagnosis and Repair of Our Jury System, by David Tunno

Posted in Book Reviews, Improving the Jury System
Unreliable, inefficient or inoperative altogether. Those are words that longtime trial consultant David Tunno uses to describe the jury system in the United States. Tunno’s book Fixing the Engine of Justice, Diagnosis and Repair of Our Jury System gives his take on the problems and solutions for the jury system. According to Tunno, the major… Continue Reading

Article: Instructing Jurors on Law at Start of Case Would Improve Decision Making

Posted in General, Improving the Jury System
Here is an interesting article titled “Through the Eyes of Jurors: The Use of Cognitive Psychology in the Application of ‘Plain Language’ Jury Instructions.” The author is Sara Gordon, a professor at the UNLV School of Law. The article concludes that “jurors do not come to trials as blank slates; they bring with them existing… Continue Reading

Mississippi Supreme Court’s Reversal of $2.6 Million Judgement Shows Why State Courts Need Better System for Jury Instructions

Posted in Appellate Decisions From Jury Verdicts, Improving the Jury System, Mississippi Supreme Court
On Thursday the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded a $2.6 million judgment in Miss. Valley Silica Co. v. Eastman in a 6–3 decision. Here is the Court’s opinion. The Court’s decision stemmed from a 2010 silica trial in Warren County that resulted in a $7.6 million jury verdict. The trial court reduced the verdict… Continue Reading

Revamp Law School Curriculum? Not So Fast

Posted in General, Improving the Jury System, Law School
Should law schools change their curriculum? That was the focus of a New York Times editorial on Friday. The editorial states: Instead of a curriculum taught largely through professors’ grilling of students about appellate cases, some schools are offering more apprentice-style learning in legal clinics and more courses that train students for their multiple future roles… Continue Reading

Jury Misconduct in Merchant v. Forest County Family Practice Clinic Indicative of Larger Issues

Posted in General, Improving the Jury System, Mississippi Supreme Court
On Tuesday I wrote about the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision in Merchant v. Forest Family Practice Clinic. The Court reversed a defense verdict in a medical malpractice case and remanded the case for a new trial. This is not really the subject of this post, but it’s worth noting that historically the Court does not reverse many defense… Continue Reading

Mississippi Should Consider Jury Reforms Similar to Those Adopted in Michigan

Posted in General, Improving the Jury System
A few weeks ago the Wall Street Journal Law Blog wrote about jury reforms adopted by the State of Michigan. Here is the article.  Here is a link to the actual reforms that the Michigan Supreme Court adopted. Key provisions in the Michigan reforms include: before evidence is presented the trial judge shall provide the jury with… Continue Reading