In defense of insurers
In his letter in your July 2001 issue, Phillip
Sheldon laments the fact that insurance companies "tender nothing
resembling fair and adequate compensation in personal injury cases."
He finds it sinister that the insurance companies rely on data that
predicts how a jury will evaluate a certain case.
Isn't that the whole point of this exercise we
call personal injury litigation? I always thought, and I guess I now
must be mistaken, that cases are evaluated based on what a jury would
I also thought that if one doesn't like a
settlement offer, one has a right to go to court to seek compensation
(and to hire a lawyer who will take 40 percent off the top).
What, exactly, is your proposed remedy, Mr.
Sheldon? A law that mandates that insurance companies roll over and
accept the initial settlement demand? That they not be allowed to
protect their insureds to keep insurance premiums low? That they
cannot evaluate a case based on what a jury might award? Ridiculous.
Craig L. Dunkin
Back to the old days
The State Bar has returned to its old ways.
With the impending passage of SB 479 (a $10
increase in dues to establish a rehabilitation program for law-yers),
the State Bar will impose fees that go beyond the scope of its core
functions, which are to administer the bar exam, prosecute
unscrupulous lawyers and sponsor worthy MCLE programs.
That's it. Lawyers paying for a drug
rehabilitation program should do so on a voluntary, not mandatory
basis. We already are required to take MCLE courses on the dangers of
substance abuse. Now we must pay for attorneys who failed to heed that
The State Bar should've allowed its members to
make a comment or conduct a poll on whether SB 479 should be part of a
mandatory fee provision. I suspect the reason why it didn't is
because it knew what our response would be - No.
As you know, former Gov. Pete Wilson refused to
sign legislation to appropriate money for the bar in 1997. He felt the
organization had deviated from its statutory purpose and the only way
to steer it through its proper legislative course was to shut it down.
Unfortunately, we no longer have a governor who'll shut this
I guess that's why Sen. Burton created the bill
in the first place.
If SB 479
becomes law, it will be a statutory requirement.
Jury nullification means legal
Alan Scheflin (June Bar Journal) overreaches when
he says that when jurors take their oath in California, they must
swear to obey the judge, but violate their constitutional duty after
the Williams and Cleveland decisions. What poppycock! The judge
doesn't demand fealty from a jury. In most cases, the judge issues a
set of standard jury instructions or jury instructions negotiated
between the parties which describe the law.
Thus, the judge simply is providing a statement
of the law to the jury. Perhaps Mr. Scheflin would prefer that jurors
ignore the law and do any darn thing that they want, including the
alleged "19th century enormous law making powers" that he des-cribes
in his article.
He appears to be suggesting that the entire legal
and legislative process should be at the mercy of 12 people.
Terrific. Twenty-first century legal anarchy.
Fortunately, this is a nation of laws and the
lawyers are sworn to uphold them. We are officers of the court. The
last thing that any of us needs to do is encourage a jury to act
outside the law if it suits our purposes.
James W. Paul