Right to Fair Jury is a Must
Imagine that you are the spouse of someone who was killed by a doctor’s negligence when performing a routine procedure. Your spouse raised your children or provided the bulk of the income to your family. You and your children are left with a huge hole in your lives. To help fill the hole, you make a personal injury (medical malpractice) claim against the doctor’s insurance. The doctor’s insurance refuses to admit that the doctor was at fault or argues that your damages are low (hard to believe under this scenario, but it happens all too frequently). Your case becomes one of the rare cases that must go to a jury trial.
You and your lawyer prepare for a two week jury trial to allow a jury to make the decision. You are counting on a jury of fair people who do not have ties to either party to decide your family’s fate. During the jury selection, each party is usually given 4 challenges to strike any potential juror. However, potential jurors can and should be eliminated from the jury for cause if they have ties to either party. In your case, the list of potential jurors include more than 4 people that have connections with the doctor. Your lawyer requests that the Judge remove all potential jurors that have a connection with the doctor for cause as they cannot be fair and impartial. The Judge refuses. Your lawyer uses challenges to strike 4 of those potential jurors, but you are left looking at a jury that includes a nurse who worked for the doctor and two patients of the doctor for two weeks while the jury decides the fates of the doctor and your family. Would you feel confident that the jury was going to be fair to your family?
There are currently three cases likely going to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to decide issues just like the one presented above. See Cornelius v. Menio, M.D., Cordes v. Associates of Internal Medicine, and Commonwealth v. Noel. Hopefully, our Supreme Court Justices see the injustice in these facts and help insure that each case is decided by a fair and impartial jury for the protection of all parties; especially your family.