That is what I would tell people who asked me about the case when I as gagged by the court. In truth the case was a personal injury, slip and fall case. Without giving names or details that would pick this one case out of ~2.5 million lawsuits filed in the county of Cook this is what happened.
In west suburban Cook county near, but not in, the fair Village of Bellwood where I live a driveway was under construction. The building inspector had to approve the excavation for the new drive way and after parking and walking to the site he did. He made the necessary examination of the driveway and he approved the concrete pour. On the way back to his car the building inspector slipped in a concrete slurry, a slimy, mostly water mixture of concrete with little or no gravel.
The inspector fell and hurt his shoulder. His rotator cuff was torn. His muscles detached and needed to be re attached by an orthopedic surgeon. I can only imagine the pain he was in.
The jury found after very hard deliberation and with great compromise that as a building inspector the plaintiff was 37% responsible for keeping a look out for hazards. He not only did not see the hazard, he approved the cite for the next concrete pour. However, the contractor was ultimately way more responsible. The defendants lawyer, was felt by the jury to be the better attorney. However the defendant was up #### creek based on the facts of the case. Both lawyers did a really good job, but a good lawyer can't rescue you from the facts. I can't help but feel that wearing some good non-slip, steel toed boots would have saved that inspector a heap of trouble. Anyone who has ever stepped on a nail knows that.
Comparison to a scientific research problem.
In scientific research the data is usually clear and not in dispute at all. We know what it is, we know how it was gathered, we can numerically quantify how confident we are in the data (see for example: http://www.science20.com/quantum_diaries_survivor/demystifying_fivesigma_criterion_part_ii-118442).
The question isn't what crashed into what the question is why did they crash and what laws governed the crashing process. At least in classical physics, and most other sciences, we have data of a quantified confidence on the phenomena of interest. We can say that the apple falls with an acceleration of -9.8 +/- 0.2 m s^-2 .
I used to be confident that the task of the scientist was harder than that of the lawyer. It really isn't. They are two sides of the same coin. In fact, when we allow for the human motives of our fellow scientist.... it might be wise to "cross examine" any data. We call it peer review and/or open comments. In cases of fraudulent data getting through peer review, the jury that is the scientific community. That grandest of juries does get the final say in the validity of theories and data.
If there is a moral to my ramblings it is this. Scientist should be kind to lawyers and consider the way the legal system functions when looking for ways to determine what is good science and what isn't.1 Reliance on a select few hierarchs among a shadowy hoodie wearing (as in PhD' hood wearing) elite won't be enough in the future. The sheer volume won't allow for anyone to handle all of the possible papers and be really fair.
Things I could have said to avoid jury duty.
1.) I hate Italians, The Plaintiff was Italian.
These are the plausible reasons I could be biased.
I was emotionally involved with a lovely young Italian lady, a biologically female, woman identified yet self admittedly tomboyish person. 2 For a time she was Marie to my Pierre Currie; Desdemona to my Othello; then the second horseman of my apocalypse. I was so done with her whole ethnicity in specific that I did not even want to see Neapolitan ice cream in the house. Ok, so It wasn't/isn't that bad. However, I did learn to appreciate Shakespeare from the experience. I also learned why they would say that the women are more dangerous than shotguns 3. At my age no one holds a grudge over that sort of thing unless kids or property are involved.
Many of the so called white people in this part of the county are of Italian extraction. The Village of Bellwood has an Italian Mayor and so many Italian businesses that one could be surprised to find that the neighborhood is 80% + black/ African American. It's like the neighborhood from "Do the Right Thing" with more money. I don't really have a problem with that. No one here seems to have a real problem with it. We even re elected that mayor after his policies + the 2008 crash and the Great Recession left us with a municipal debt of over one hundred million dollars. 4 No one even ran against him. So much for the idea of the racially motivated "black vote".
Personally I have had enough varied experiences with that ethnicity and a mix of others in this area. One or two bad turns won't make me love or hate a given race as a whole.
2.)I hate lawyers and believe that no one should ever get more than compensation for their lost wages, and medical cost.
This one is pretty straight forward and not as sensitive as the first one. If I had honestly been able to say I absolutely would never want to be compensated for pain and suffering etc if/when I was hurt I'm sure I would not have been on that jury.
As it stands I did point out that my father a Surgeon, specialized in Podiatry was the target of frivolous lawsuits during his 20+ years of practice. As far as I know he was never found liable for any damages. Often the issues were caused when a patient would not follow his orders post operatively. i.e. Don't put weight on that foot for X number of days. Don't put on dancing shoes and go to the club for X months. Don't put your caste in the bathtub.
3.)I could have come to court in high drag.
Before I adopted a more two-spirited presentation 5 than a simply transfeminine one I referred to dressing up a certain way as "drag". I'm sure if I showed up looking worse than Wesley snipes in "To Wong foo". I would have not been on that jury. However, I take pride in my appearance no matter what side of my gender I want to emphasize. It takes little for me to appear to be one gender or the other, very little. A choice of this jacket or that jacket or wearing my hair one way or the other is all of the difference.
To me the whole thing seems so very arbitrary, beyond certain biological facts what difference does it make? Like, why would the single occupancy, utterly identical, bathrooms in the Jury chamber need to be marked men and women? A sign saying occupied or open would have been more useful.
4.) I could have use my disabled family members to cry hardship.
I have a father who was once a medical doctor. He is now legally blind and has been since the mid 90's. My sister has special needs. I could have used them as an excuse. The truth is aside from needing help with certain specific things I can afford to leave them for up to eight hours without any problems.
5.) The judges name.
I won't name the judge but let me put it this way. His name has a storied history in US law and is known for meeting out swift if not always sure justice. That said he was the most reasonable most approachable judge I have ever dealt with. I have dealt with many judges and most of them are actually pretty reasonable and balanced people. That is why they are judges and stay judges because in real life hot heads don't last in that profession. (They will nail you if the law calls for it but they are fair.)
I suppose I could have acted like it was such an amusing thing that I would never be able to keep my composure. However while it was momentarily a thing... that would scare the crap out of me if I were a criminal defendant... I dared not use that as an excuse to get out of service.
As one juror put it if judge Harry Stone from night court had been real it would have been him. Right down to his older bailiff.
In the end I'm glad I served on the jury. At least now I probably won't even be summoned for 5-10 years.
1 the system used to award a MS or PhD from a thesis comes close to being a trial.
2, 5, In case anyone is wondering who has followed me. Yes I used to be of the mind that I was totally into men and men only. However upon reflection I am attracted to a certain gender presentation and a certain kind of mind more than to a body. Bodies change in so many ways, clothes change, a persons basic character does not.
3 That's not just from the Godfather. Italian men really do say that kind of thing about Italian women. (see for example this Yahoo answer .)
4 Yeah really... about 20,000 people somehow owe a total of 100 million dollars as a municipal corporation due to some badly timed real estate deals. 2-5 years sooner and we would be fine.