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"Moving Toward the Fully Informed Jury"

The Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy last year published an article thus titled by Steven Hantler of DaimlerChrysler and Victor E. Schwartz, Cary Silverman and Emily Laird of Shook Hardy & Bacon. According to the American Justice Partnership, which has reprinted the piece, the article addresses five judge-made rules which "blindfold a jury from knowing about highly relevant and material evidence. When such rules were formulated, they had a strong and reasonable rationale, but in each case that basis has diminished in importance." To quote Victor Schwartz's summary, the article criticizes the following exclusions of evidence:

Where a jury does not know that a plaintiff has already received compensation for an injury (i.e., the collateral source rule);

Where a jury does not know if a plaintiff was wearing a seatbelt;

Where a jury does not know that a driver of a vehicle was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, or asleep at the wheel (this can be extended to other situations where a plaintiff's wrongful conduct is not known by the jury);

Where a jury does not know that if it finds a defendant even 5% or 10% liable, that the defendant may end up paying 100% of the damages (i.e., the joint and several liability rule); and

Where a jury does not know that a plaintiff was exposed to asbestos from sources other than the defendant.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.