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Get the full facts

I am compelled to disagree with Richard Heston's assumption that the two jury verdicts he singled out for criticism were irrational (July).

In the case of the medical malpractice verdict of $84,750,000, presumably all the damages awarded in excess of $250,000 were to compensate for economic losses, since California's MICRA restricts pain and suffering damages in medical cases to $250,000.

Without having heard the evidence presented to the jury, it seems inappropriate to assume that the jury's finding was anything but rational and geared to compensate for such a devastating and continuing loss.

With respect to the other verdict criticized — $14,456,000 for the loss of an eye — it would be helpful to know what portion of the verdict was for non-economic damages. Here again, we are in the dark as to what economic damages were proved.

My own experience as a trial lawyer is that juries do not give away money; they must be convinced that there is a compensible loss.

A reading of the Trials Digest section indicates that when it comes to medical malpractice cases especially, California juries are vey stingy, since they award zero dollars to medical malpractice plaintiffs the great majority of the time.

Is this irrational? Before I would come to such a conclusion, I would demand more facts.

Stephen V. Petix
San Diego

War and peace

I was dismayed to read that the State Bar Board of Governors had voted unanimously to waive the bar dues of members "who were called to active duty to serve in the military in the Iraq war."

Quite aside from the fact that the board's unanimous vote seems an endorsement of this crime, it seems singularly bad fiscal policy. Lawyers called to active duty are almost always officers and are therefore well paid for their work in the military, with excellent fringe benefits.

They ususally serve as JAG attorneys and, ironically, one of the qualifications for being able to do so is the fact that they pay bar dues.

The Bar Journal has given us the impression, perhaps a misleading one, that the bar today works on a fairly tight budget. If, however, the bar has money to squander on dues waivers for people who "volunteer" for highly paid employment in the service of a crusade whose questionable legality is matched only by its questionable morality, why not also waive dues for those of us who volunteer long hours, for no pay, in antiwar organizations?

Is war really that much more worthwhile than peace?

Dave Linn
Berkeley

Forget the ABA

I make reference to Alfred P. Carlton Jr.'s (July) column in which he encourages us California lawyers to join the American Bar Association.

Could Mr. Carlton, or anyone for that matter, explain why the many of us who oppose abortion would pay money to support the ABA, when since the early 1990s, it has formally endorsed and supported abortion?

Sadly, history now shows that in taking this religio-socio-political position, the ABA forfeited what had been longstanding recognition of its ability to speak for American lawyers.

Dennis Pearce Kelly
Lake San Marcos

Impediments for disabled

I was delighted that the State Bar is trying to make an effort to reach out to lawyers with disabilities. However, why is the bar's survey only available online? Not everyone can utilize that format.

In order to make the survey accessible to all attorneys with disabilities, alternative methods of responding should have been offered.

Betty Rome
Culver City

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