By Hon. (Ret.) Ken E. Adair
Don’t Be Afraid Of Greed
Video Transcribed: Hi, my name is Ken Adair and I am a people’s lawyer and a retired judge. And I’m here to talk to you about civil voir dire and talking to jurors about the things that are important to you as a lawyer, to help you identify not only those that you might need to strike for cause or in a peremptory challenge, but to help unify the jury and to include the jury, bring them together as a group, ultimately make them your juror, your jury panel, or your jurors. And we’ll talk about that more later.
But right now I want to talk about greed. Greed. This case is about money and you’ve got to let the jury know this case is about money in some respect. It’s primarily about justice, but it’s ultimately about money. And as we’ve talked about before, it’s about money because it’s the only mechanism that we can hand out justice.
This isn’t the old west. This isn’t a shootout at the OK corral. This isn’t vigilanteism, where we just let people take this out and resolve it on the street. Can you imagine if we didn’t have civil courthouses, if we didn’t have the stability of a civil courthouse with a judge and a jury and lawyers following rules, to tell the evidence and present only the competent, credible, believable evidence? Can you imagine what type of chaos there’d be out there if we didn’t have this process?
So what it’s ultimately about, money damages, because that’s all we’re afforded, and you’ve got to give money for things that money can’t fix because otherwise, what do we do? We just become anarchy. We become vigilantes. We become mobsters, rioters, and violent people. And that’s not what we’re trying to do. This is civil justice. Civility in a civil courtroom.
So you talk about greed. Then you ask the jury panel about greed and the fact that in this trial, you’re the only person … “I’m the only person, ladies, and gentlemen, who will be asking for money in this case. And if I ask for too much money, I might offend you.
But if I asked for too little money, I’m going to offend the person that I’m here to represent and that’s my client. But I’m the only person asking for money. And I know for an absolute fact that makes me look greedy. Now let’s talk about greed.
Do any of you have any thoughts about whether or not the fact that I’m the plaintiff’s lawyer and the only one in this process asking for money, does make me greedy?” And you hope somebody says, “Well, it kind of does.” Because it does, kind of, doesn’t it? Make you look greedy and that’s okay because you’re talking about it.
You’re not afraid of it. You’re not running away from it in the presence of the jury. But I always ask and I find an opportunity to ask this question: “Ladies and gentlemen, are you open to the possibility that a person that owes a debt of justice that they haven’t paid for what they broke, that they broke the social contract, that safety is no accident and they didn’t follow the rules and therefore were not safe and therefore injured my client that they broke the deal and the injured my client, and they broke my client and they should pay.
Maybe when they refuse to accept responsibility, are you open to the possibility that they’re the greedy one?” And if you’re not open to the possibility that they’re the greedy one … And you flesh that issue because greed is not about always asking for money.
Greed is sometimes about refusing to pay what you owe. There are a lot of businesses out there, big multi-billion dollar companies that refuse to pay their debts. And they litigate people to kingdom come to refuse to pay their debts and they’re being greedy. And they’ll say, “Oh, we’re trying to improve value to our stockholders by not paying our debts or doing the things we’re supposed to,” or trying to find excuses out of getting to pay.
That my friends are greed. And that’s not about asking for money. That’s about refusing to pay what they owe. Don’t be afraid of greed. Don’t be afraid of being perceived as the greedy one, but by God, you better talk about it. You better get it out there in the open. Let them know you’re not afraid of that. Not afraid to be the ones asking for money. And I have to let you know upfront. Let’s talk about greed.
I hope this has been helpful. I look forward to talking to you some more. This has been Oklahoma trial attorney Ken Adair. If you are looking for co-counsel services or an experienced jury consultant, visit trial.win.