March 18, 2010 Viera, Florida
There are very few things more nerve racking for Trial Attorneys than waiting for a Jury’s Verdict. Today is that day. The jury got the case yesterday about 3 O’clock. Today is about waiting. The Trial lasted 8 days. I feel that we did a great job. We picked a very attentive jury panel. The jury seemed to listen to everything that was said. Now comes the long wait. We already packed up and shipped back the 15 file boxes and a large amount of demonstrative exhibit. The court room is empty except for the two defense attorneys and myself. Nobody is talking about what the jury will do, but no doubt it is all that we are thinking about.
It’s almost lunch time and the Court Sheriff’s deputy is ordering the jury lunch. I jokingly offer to pay for lunch IF the deputy tells the jury who paid for their lunch. The two defense attorneys laugh. Tension is lessened but its there. One of the defense attorneys packs up and leaves for another case in another town. We exchange pleasantries and wishes of good luck. During trial we were enemies and had moments of open hostility but now the fight is over, and the Jury is in charge. Our jobs are done for now.
It’s about 2 o’clock. I ask the remaining defense attorney if he wants to grab a soda together down at the café. He says he’d love to. We discuss other cases and ideas. We finally broach the subject of what he thinks the jury will do. I tell him they are discussing the amount they are going to award my client. He thinks not. He thinks he has a Defense oriented juror who is not budging. I tell him that the juror that he is thinking about is not the one. She smiled at me during closing. If he had a juror on his side it was probably someone else. He disagreed but then again we both knew neither of us really had any clue about what the Jury was discussing. In fact, I didn’t really know why the juror smiled at me. That is why waiting for the Verdict is so nerve racking.
I have lived with this case for over 4 years. My client is now a friend who I am openly rooting for. The verdict is his future. Our Firm spent nearly $100K on bringing this case to trial. Probably a 1000 hours of our lives were in the jury’s hands. What is going on? Are we going to go into Day 3 of deliberations?
The Judicial Assistant calls. The Verdict is in. Get back to the Courtroom.
The Verdict is read aloud. The Defendant was Negligent. My Client was only 5% negligent. Here are the damages…Big numbers…$1,378 million…Justice delivered. The Defense attorney is stunned. He polls the jury. They all agree without any reservation. The Judge thanks the jurors for their services. My eyes are straight ahead. The Judge thanks us for our work at trial and during the years of litigation. I walk out with the defense attorney and he is already mentally preparing his Motion for a New Trial.
4:30 PM to 7 PM
Cell phone is off the hook with congratulations. Word is out. I have a big call to make. My client. I congratulate him. It is after all, his verdict. He says he wants a copy of the verdict. He asks what it means. I say it means the jury agreed with you. They took your side. Justice prevailed.