Judges are main ingredient in the worst jurisdictions

Ann Knef Dec. 16, 2004, 7:14am

According to the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), "Judicial Hellholes" are the craft of judges.

"A few judges may simply favor local plaintiffs' lawyers and their clients over corporation," states ATRA in its explanation. "Some, in remarkable moments of candor, have admitted their biases. More often, judges may, with the best of intentions, make rulings for the sake of expediency or efficiency that have the effect of depriving a party of its right to a proper defense."

Judges influence cases through pre-trial rulings, decisions during trial and questionable judicial integrity. The "tricks-of-the-trade" in pre-trial rulings, ATRA says, are:

  • Forum shopping. Cases are allowed to be filed even if there is no connection to the jurisdiction.

  • Novel legal theories. Judges adopt new legal theories, unsupported by law, often having national ramifications.

  • Discovery abuse. Judges allow unnecessarily broad, invasive and expensive discovery requests to increase the burden on a defendant litigating the case.

  • Consolidation and joinder. Judges join claims into mass actions that do not have common facts and circumstances.

  • Improper class certification. Judges certify classes that do not have sufficient commonality of facts or law.

  • Unfair case scheduling. Judges schedule cases in ways that are unfair or overly burdensome.

    Decisions during trials are are influenced by:

  • Excessive damagres. Judges allow extraordinary punitive damages.

  • Junk science. Judges allow plaintiffs' lawyers to introduce dubious "expert" testimony.

  • Uneven application of evidentiary rules. Judges are more lenient in the kinds of evidence plaintiffs present.

  • Jury instructions. Improper or slanted jury instructions is an "under-reported" abuse of judicial discretion.

    Judicial integrity:

  • Trial lawyer contributions. Trial lawyers contribute disproportionately to locally-elected judges.

  • Cozy relations. A revolving door exists among jurists, plaintiffs' lawyers and government officials.

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