Monday, March 09, 2009


My friend Mike just got summoned for jury duty back in the States which reminds me of the time I did my part for jurisprudence...

The trial involved a podiatry patient who accused the doctor of assault and battery for not using a local anesthetic when clipping his in-grown toenail. Apparently the good doctor didn't warn Mr. Mackaluney (name changed to protect the incontinent) that he was proceding to snip, which caused the plaintiff to exclaim "Oh!" in pain.

Mr. Mackaluney represented himself and cross-examined the podiatrist with questions peppered with pseudo legalese- "In so much as your stated compliance with regulations regarding the alleged assault do you now or have you ever felt, in so far as your ability as a medical practitioner, for all intents and purposes..." Nobody could understand what Mr. Mackaluney was trying to ask, and the judge had to instruct him to use simpler language. When he could understand the questions, the doctor replied huffily as if his time was being wasted, which of course, it was.

The podiatrist was represented by two lawyers who asked only a few questions before moving in for the kill: "Mr. Mackaluney, in your deposition you claimed that your sister was abducted. Can you tell the jury about the abduction?" Mr. Mackaluney, unfazed, told his story about how his sister was abducted by aliens. "And how did that make you feel?"

At this point, I raised my hand and said "Excuse, me, as a member of the jury, I don't know if it is my place to object, but clearly Mr. Mackaluney hasn't proper representation and I fail to see what this line of questioning has to do with an in-grown toenail," or something to that effect. Counsel for the defendant replied that since Mr. Mackaluney had mentioned the abduction during a deposition, it was fair game. They also pointed out that the plaintiff had chosen to represent himself. Sensing their prime-time legal drama sleaze was backfiring, the defense switched tactics:

"How did you feel immediately after the doctor cut your toenail?"

"I felt better."

"In terms of percentage, How much better? 10%? 50%?"



"Yes, I felt 100% better."

It took the jury all of half an hour to deliberate. In the end we voted unanimously against Mr Mackaluney. As the one who had voiced an objection, I was chosen as the chairperson and had to deliver the bad news to the poor fellow. Procedure grants the loser the right to tally the votes and he wanted to hear it from each of us. One by one we each said how we voted. How sad.

In the end, one of the jurors told the doctor that although we had voted in his favor, she had had doctors like him before, and that he ought to work on his bedside manner. Indeed.

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