This and that

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I recently had the experience of trying a motor vehicle accident case in a very small Texas county. The jury returned a verdict for the Plaintiff, my client, and the court reporter told me she could not recall the last time that there had been a verdict in favor of a Plaintiff in a car wreck case in that county. So that part was good. There was no offer from the insurance carrier prior to trial, so a Plaintiff's verdict is a win with no offer on the table. The damages awarded by the jury were conservative, and reflected the challenges of trying a personal injury case in a small, conservative Texas county, and in an situation where many members of the jury know people involved in the case.

The staff of the court were extremely nice to work with, as well as the judge who presided over the case. One potential juror had family related to the Defendant and also had a husband who was partners with the investigating officer. The liability in the accident was in great dispute and the police report was not favorable to my client. The investigating officer had missed some crucial details in his on scene investigation, and I thought we had a shot of convincing the jury of the same, but the small town environment created some unique challenges.

All in all, I really enjoyed the experience, other than picking the wrong place to stay my first night of trial!

A judge closer to home has decided to set a bunch of cases on her docket for December 26th. The day after Christmas. I never have taken a survey of lawyers that have attended December 26th court but this is a first for me. I think it will be interesting to take in the reactions of the attorneys that have been summoned to court on the 26th of December. Most courts and judges view the 26th as family time, at least in my experience. Harris County, to my knowledge, has an official dead week the week of Christmas and an unofficial dead week the week between Christmas and New Year's. During dead weeks, the Courts don't schedule routine trials and hearings.

I have been at this for a few years. When I first started going to court, there were no cell phones, no internet, the big firms had two floors dedicated to their law library, I was excited about my IBM Selectric typewriter ($2000.00) and the invention of the fax machine. I had several bookcases with litigation guides and Texas statutes that had to be updated every so often at a considerable expense. Now in the middle of a hearing or trial, in about a minute or less, I can find on my phone whatever case or statute that unexpectedly comes into play. It really is a game changer. And incredibly inexpensive compared to years past. Caveat: before you get too carried away with immediate access to millions of cases and statutes on your phone, you better find out if your phone service works in that courthouse. My recent small county experience allowed me to discover Verizon coverage did not extend to that area. It made for a good moment with a lady on the jury panel who worked for AT&T! I had visited the Courthouse prior to trial, so I made that discovery, and made adjustments accordingly. It helps to have a scouting trip to get the lay of the land!