Gonna take a sentimental jury

The Madison County Record Dec. 23, 2011, 12:58am

Every year another study comes out documenting how little too many American citizens know about the history of our country and the nature of our political system.

Most cannot identify what form of government we have or name the three branches into which federal power is separated.

The implications are obvious and worrisome.

For one thing, voters who do not understand or appreciate the virtues of free enterprise and limited government are not likely to be wary of candidates who propose programs that undermine these bulwarks of our free society.

The threats posed by ignorant citizens can affect the jury box as well as the ballot box.

Citizens who have not learned to be informed and discerning voters are not likely to excel as jurors either.

Many American voters seem not to understand that our government has no absolute right to take money from some citizens and transfer it to others.

Likewise, many American jurors seem not to understand that a court has no right to do this either – except in compensation for undeniable injuries proven to have been caused by a specific defendant.

Lack of understanding may explain a recent case in which a Madison County jury awarded more than $2 million to a man injured in a car accident caused by a pizza delivery driver.

The jury found the driver's employer, Bethalto Pizza, 70 percent responsible and assigned 30 percent of the blame to Imo's Franchising, the company with which Bethalto Pizza is affiliated.

But the franchise agreement left policy-making up to the local store -- and the driver responsible for the accident was not held liable at all.

Moreover, the injured man, a vacuum salesman, was award $750,000 for disability and more than $600,000 for lost earnings, despite evidence that he remained capable of performing his job and that his earning potential had not been diminished by the accident.

A better informed and more discerning jury might not have been so generous with other people's money.

More News