By Hon. (Ret.) Ken E. Adair
Talk About It in Voir Dire
Video Transcribed: Hi, my name is Ken Adair. I am a people’s lawyer and I am a retired judge. And I’m here to talk to you about civil voir dire. Now, this topic is going to be a little controversial, and I haven’t quite totally sorted out in my mind how, and whether, and under what circumstances I’m going to address this issue. But I want to address it because tens or hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent preconditioning our society to believe that sometimes stuff just happens.
Remember the old bumper sticker? It didn’t say, “Stuff happens,” it said something else happens. Rhymes with spit happens, and they call it mayhem. And they do these things that just happen. Mayhem just happens. Comes out of nowhere, just mayhem. And it’s to create the impression that sometimes, maybe somebody wasn’t negligent. Maybe somebody didn’t break the contract and break the deal. It’s just mayhem, it just happens.
And, I believe that it’s not only acceptable, I think it’s necessary to voir dire about the concept of stuff happens, or mayhem. That sometimes it’s just unavoidable and it’s, the dog just jumped in their lap, they couldn’t help it. The dog just jumped in their lap. Or, something just blew off of somebody’s car. It wasn’t their fault, they did the best they could., it’s just mayhem.
Stuff, spit happens, okay? I’ll say it. You got to voir dire about these, you got to let the jury know that you’re not afraid of that issue, but you want to find out what they think about the concept because it’s going to creep in there.
It’s been beaten into them just hundreds of times. Every juror has seen a mayhem commercial dozens, if not hundreds of times, and it’s part of their psyche. It’s going to creep in, and you need to talk about it.
How many of you belief, we talked earlier about safety is no accident. A deal’s a deal. You got rules of the road. How many believe sometimes that just stuff happens. Spit happens. It’s just mayhem, it’s out of your control. It’s just mayhem.
You want to find out who is going to be susceptible to that mindset. You don’t want to wait until voir dire, and ask them after the jury trial is over, “Well, what did you think?” “Well, you know, it was just out of their control, it was just mayhem.” You can’t wait, it’s too late.
Talk about it in voir dire. You may end up… You’re not talking about insurance, you’re just talking about a concept that the insurance companies have spent tens or hundreds of millions of dollars putting out there to society at large, tainting the jury pool. And you’re not talking about insurance, you don’t talk about an insurance commercial. Just talk about the concept.
Again. I haven’t quite sorted out how I’m going to do that and how I’m going to dodge the electric fence or keep from grazing too far through the fence, but I think it’s fair. The jury panel has been tainted in ways that the plaintiff’s bar can’t do it.
Can you imagine if insurance companies had to advertise, well not insurance companies, but if the injury defense bar had to advertise like plaintiff’s lawyers do? Do you need a law firm that is going to fight like the dickens to make sure that injured people don’t get a dime, that they get no justice, and we’ll be there to fight for you, the multi-billion-dollar-a-year insurance company.
Come to us, and we’ll make sure that you don’t have to pay complete justice so that you can make more money, and be answerable and accountable to your stockholders in a way that’ll make you guys even more profitable than before. Hire my law firm. Can you imagine if they had to advertise like plaintiff’s lawyers, how ridiculous and obnoxious and offensive their ads would be?
Well, they don’t. But they’ll advertise, insurance companies will advertise about mayhem, to make it look like we’re out there just chasing dragons or jousting with windmills, looking for giants. And I know sometimes you feel that way, I do. I’ve been compared to Don Quixote plenty of times. Don’t be afraid to voir dire about mayhem and spit happen.
Hope this has been a little bit helpful. I know it’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but it’s a very serious issue. I hope you have the courage to voir dire about that because I will. Don’t talk about insurance, but it’s fair game to talk about mayhem, it’s out there.
Again, hope this has been helpful. Look forward to talking to you some more. This has been trial attorney Ken Adair. If you are looking for co-counsel services or an experienced jury consultant, visit trial.win.