First of all, Dan, let me say that we have a unique system here in Harris
County, Texas. You have a very good chance to be called frequently for jury
duty. I have been called about once a year since I've lived here. But you go
down, and if you are not selected for a jury panel by the end of the day,
you can go home. If you DO get on a panel, but are not selected for the
jury, you go home. You are guaranteed that, if you don't get selected, you
will waste AT MOST one day sitting at the courthouse complex.
That said, "many are called but few are chosen. And why are they not
chosen?" Because defense lawyers typically go for the LOWEST common
denominator. They can ask what you do for a living, for example, and if you
say "engineer" you can just about forget being selected for a jury. The last
thing that defense or plaintiff's attorneys want is someone who can think
logically and rationally.
That's part of the problem: No matter what the LAW is, if some shyster
somewhere can get a jury of our "peers" (think "lowest common denominator,"
mind you) to come up with some cockamamie reason why someone should get
three Bazillion dollars because they smoked three-and-a-half packs of
cigarettes a day for seventy years, ignoring all physicians' advice, and the
Surgeon General's warning, and then keeled over at age 75 from emphysema,
then that's what's going to happen.
We are really in deep **** about this, and no one really understands it. It
isn't something that most people have to deal with every day, and there are
plenty of "special interests" (read "trial attorneys") who have the clout to
manipulate and use the media to convince us all that if we don't watch out
"Corporate America" is going to kill us.
Only problem is, "Corporate America," we find out, includes you and me and
any small businessman who politicians can demonize, villify and set our
And there is a sizeable segment of the population that looks at this the
same way they do a lottery ticket: It could be the ticket to wealth and
fortune with nary a scintilla of effort on their part.
So it goes.
William L. Polhemus, Jr., P.E.
Polhemus Engineering Company
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