New York City Personal Injury Law Blog
Preventing the Defense Attorney from Prejudicing the Jury in Accident Cases
Posted on Oct 26, 2014 in Legal Terminology
In New York, as in any other city, accident cases are being filed each day to claim damages for the victims. In order to reduce the compensation amount, defense attorneys employ various strategies and techniques to influence the opinion of the jury. The lawyer of the victim has to make sure the jury is not prejudiced by the appearance or statements of the defense lawyer in any way. Here is an interesting case that brings forth this important issue.
Hard Work Pays Off
A person travelling in a subway car sustained grievous injuries when the car came to a grinding halt suddenly. Due to the short stop, the individual was propelled forward violently and he sustained severe spinal injuries. The victim filed a personal injury lawsuit to claim damages from the transit authorities for his injuries. Interestingly, the transit authorities chose a defense lawyer who did not have any arms and legs because of some sort of birth defect.
This unique individual, even though having a severe handicap had managed to become a highly successful trial attorney. This lawyer used prostheses for his arms and legs to carry out normal tasks.
A Sympathy Vote
In such an instance, the victim’s lawyer must make sure this lawyer does not talk to the jury about his disabilities and compare them to the injuries that the victim was claiming. This would make a very convincing argument, and influence the minds of the jurors. The defense lawyer will tell the jury to observe the state of the victim, and then consider his own state. The lawyer can comment to the jury that he was able to do all the normal things on a daily basis, and accomplish all that was required of a successful attorney. Therefore, the jury should not think of awarding the victim so much compensation, since the injuries are not so significant.
When you compare the injuries of the victim to someone who is missing arms and legs, the injuries will definitely seem less significant. However, the disabilities of the defense lawyer should not play any part in this type of trial. The victim’s lawyer will have to stop this from happening by appealing to the judge. This is legally called “motion in limine”, where a motion is made at the beginning of the trial so that the judge may prevent the defense attorney from presenting certain evidence or presenting certain arguments.
When the victim’s lawyer made this motion, the defense lawyer started explaining to the judge why he should be allowed to compare his own disabilities to the injuries of the victim, and present it to the jury. However, the judge ruled in favor of the victim’s lawyer, and prevented the other lawyer from talking about his disabilities and comparing it with the injuries of the victim. Hence, the victim’s lawyer has to be alert to such situations, and will have to ask the judge specifically to prevent the defense lawyer from prejudicing the minds of the jurors.