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Juryless tribunals, cont'd

Regarding Saturday's letter from reader Stan Sipple warning that nonjury "health courts" might not be quite so supportive of physician defendants as they think, an attorney reader who asks to remain anonymous writes:

Your Nebraska reader is dead-bang on about the idea of bench trials as a cure for runaway juries. In judicial hellholes like Madison and St. Clair Counties in Illinois the juries, as bad as they sometimes are, are much better than the judges. My firm inherited a case from a Chicago firm that had forgotten to ask for a jury trial and we called plaintiff's counsel to ask if he would consent to a late request. His response: "Why should I take a chance with 12 people I don't know?"

In all fairness to the "health courts" idea, one of its fundamental premises is that qualified medical expertise would be enlisted in aid of court determinations, which means determinations of liability would hardly be left to judges' mere discretion. Even so, it is likely that across many jurisdictions and communities physicians who currently benefit from favorable jury esteem/sympathy would find a dispassionate expert tribunal less rather than more sympathetic to professional error.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.