Wednesday, November 12, 2008

8 Days In Seat 10 (Part Five - The Final Verdict)

The story you have just read is true. Only the names were changed to protect the innocent. That would be me and the other jurors. The two maroons suing each other certainly weren’t.

(In case you didn't read the story, you can find its various components HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.)

Having heard seven days worth of testimony concerning how rotten two neighbors could be, we now had to decide if one of them was more rotten than the other. We also had to decide if being less rotten deserved any sort of monetary reward.

The counts being contested were…

By French, Against Irish:

1 – Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress

2 – Nuisance

3 – Abuse Of Process

4 – Malicious Prosecution

5 – Assault

6 – Assault & Battery

Counts 3 and 4 were tied together. They both had to do with Mrs. Irish’s accusation that Mr. French flashed her. As you’ll recall, he was found not guilty of that charge in a previous trial. Our feeling was that this was probably the truth. At the least, we found her testimony conflicted with some of the physical evidence we were shown. The assault charge was for Irish driving up onto French’s lawn and almost running him over. Had he actually run him over, it would have been assault and battery. The assault & battery charge concerned French being kicked in the balls, or perhaps it was about him being trapped under the motorcycle while Irish beat him with his own shoe; I forget.

By Irish, Against French:

1 – Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress

2 – Nuisance

3 – Invasion Of Privacy

After giving us a thorough reading of what the law was concerning each count, the judge gave each of us a series of xeroxed sheets containing the 31 questions we needed to decide in order to reach a verdict.

31 things? Yes. There were 9 counts, but after deciding guilt or innocence, we needed to decide if actual damages had been done, and, if so, what monetary award we might wish to attach to that damage. With the inclusion of wives in a couple of the questions, we had 31 total decisions to make.

We were escorted into the deliberation room, where we began dissecting all that we had heard during the seven days. Since we were under strict orders to not discuss the case prior to deliberations, we now freely let our opinions fly. The one opinion that flew higher than any of the others was that both of these guys were flaming assholes. Not everybody used those exact words, but the superlatives actually used were most certainly synonyms.

Our foreman decided that things would go more smoothly if we first decided the guilt or innocence on all counts, after which we would revisit each of the questions to decide on the money. He was right. The decisions concerning guilt or innocence were simple. We found both of the jerks guilty, on every count, and we also wished to add qualifiers. We wanted to go into the courtroom and say...

"Your Honor, we not only find both of these fucktards monumentally guilty, but we would like to add some counts of our own. They are also guilty of Intentional Infliction Of Mental Cruelty On A Jury; Gross Lack Of Common Sense; and An Indiscriminate Waste Of The Taxpayer's Money. We feel they should pay each of us 10 times the salary we lost sitting here listening to them, as well as make a reimbursement to the state treasury for all costs incurred. In addition, we recommend that they both be pilloried. In that way, if we somehow got our verdicts wrong, the neighbors of these dickweeds will no doubt see that the balance is evened out."

Unfortunately, we weren't allowed commentary, so we did the best we could with the tools at our disposal. We found Irish guilty on all counts brought against him by French, and we found French guilty of all counts brought against him by Irish. On 6 of the 9 counts, even though we said that, yes, damage was done, we awarded the winning party ZERO dollars as compensation. They were both dicks. We weren't about to award them anything for dickishness done to them when they were just as dickish in reciprocating.

The three counts we awarded money on were:

Malicious Prosecution - We felt that this did a disservice to French that went beyond anything he had done to Irish. French was still employed as a police officer at the time of the charge, but was immediately dropped when the charge was made. However, he was only working part-time, as a "special police officer" - the guy who stands by a hole being dug, directing traffic, if he isn't too busy chatting with a backhoe operator - so we believed the salary loss was somewhat minimal. The major amount of the award was to recoup his defense fees, for that trial and a portion of the one for which we currently sat in judgment. The award was $30,000.

(More on this at the end.)

Assault & Battery - We awarded French $5,000. We felt it was reasonable because he had been the recipient of actual physical harm from Irish, whereas (so far as we knew) Irish had not received any actual physical harm at the hands of French. It was a relatively small amount only because French had never sought medical aid for any of the injuries he suffered.

On the other hand, we awarded $10,000 to Irish on the count of Invasion Of Privacy. There was some argument among us concerning the amount. A few wanted to even things out completely, awarding $35,000 to Irish. They felt that this - a total of zero dollars changing hands, once all was totaled - would send the unequivocal message that both of them should grow up. On the other hand, some wished the amount we awarded to be less than what we finally did award. In the end, we reached a compromise on the figure of $10,000.

Final monetary judgment, in total, was $25,000 to Mr. French.

We signaled the court officer that we were ready. Deliberations had taken perhaps six hours in total. We were done, finished, through, completed, and mentally exhausted. We trooped back into the courtroom and had our paperwork handed to the judge, who then handed it to the court clerk to be read aloud. As each verdict was read, he asked our foreman if it was correct. When the foreman answered in the affirmative, he then questioned the remainder of the jury. What with all of the reading, questioning, and answering, the delivery of the verdicts took about ten minutes.

After all had been verified, the judge turned to face us. She thanked us for our time and effort, adding that she felt we were an unusually attentive and perceptive jury. I took this to mean that she also thought that both of these guys were a-holes, same as we did, only she wasn't really allowed to say as much while seated behind the bench.

We were led out of court, back to the deliberation room. We were told that the judge wished to speak to us, and that she would answer any questions we might have, too.

The judge walked into our room, and she again thanked us for sitting through such a mess. She assured us that it was one of the most convoluted and bizarre suits she had ever had to sit through. She again said that we had shown great sagacity via our decisions. She said that, in private conversations with the other court personnel, many of them expressed the opinion that both Irish and French should have been locked in the same jail cell, left to settle their differences in whatever way they wished, and thus saved us all a load of time.

Now, a couple of closing notes of some import.

Do you remember me mentioning that we were never seated in the jury box prior to 9:15, even though we were asked to report by 8:30am? The judge told us the reason for that. Irish was in custody, awaiting trial on different criminal complaints. She couldn't tell us this while the trial was ongoing, since it would possibly have prejudiced our decisions. So, while Irish was being escorted by guards each morning, we had to cool our heels. One of the charges facing him was a contempt of court, which our judge would be hearing the Monday following. God bless her. She had to sit through at least one more day of it than we did. Irish was also due to appear in small claims court, where he was being sued by (yup) French for the destruction done by shooting at French's lights and house with the BB gun.

As for the legal fees we assumed we were reimbursing French... In a newspaper account which I read after the trial, it was mentioned that French had spent $100,000 for his attorneys.

One Hundred Thousand Dollars.

That still boggles my mind. We had heard a figure of $10,000 bandied about during the trial itself, so perhaps that was a misprint which included an extra zero. If that figure is true, though, then the sum total of the trial reads:

Irish - Minus $25,000
French - Minus $75,000

Which is somehow fitting, that they both lost money on the thing, although perhaps a bit tilted in Irish's favor. However, I expect that Irish may end up paying via the additional trials and also via loss of property value when he sells his place, since who in hell would want to move next door to French?

In closing, I'd like to thank both of these guys for one thing, and one thing only. I know that, from this point onward, whenever I see a happy Christmas bear on somebody's lawn, I'll smile. If the bear is mooning me, I'll laugh out loud. That sort of thing adds years to your life, or so I'm told.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Anonymous said...

I see your ploy, the BEAR is MOONING me from the front. See you in court!

Janet said...

That may be the best courtroom story I ever heard. Or if it's not, it's certainly told better than any I ever heard.
I've always thought that in any lawsuit only lawyers made money. My sister-in-law (an attorney) wanted me to sue the garbage truck driver who nearly killed me. I said then that that guy had no money, he was uninsured at the time, and the only person who would get anything would be a lawyer I couldn't afford anyway. She was a bit offended.

Anonymous said...

Bravo!!! This story should be trotted out every Thanksgiving, right along with Alice's Restaurant.

Michelle H. said...

This had to be the best story I ever heard, although I'm still wrapping my mind about the finer details. I only have two questions.

Out of the five parts to this story, how many times did you use the word "dick" in its various incarnations?

I wonder what it was like for a special police officer to talk with a backhoe operator? And isn't "backhoe operator" just a pretty word to describe a pimp?

I guess I had two and a half questions.

GreenJello said...

That was an awesome story. I wish, like you, that it could have been a complete wash as far as money changing hands. Fitting.

But still-- the idiots are stupidly shoveling all their retirement money to attorneys when they could be traveling the world.

Go figure.

lime said...

glad to know you had a sane and compassionate (on the jury) judge. pity that creativity in administering justice isn't allowed for. a joint jail cell is the way i'd go and requiring both of those wastes of DNA to pay the jury for it's time seems totally called for aas well.

Bear Naked said...

You MUST get this story published or how about a *Movie of the Week?*

I am tring to decide which actors could best portray Irish and/or French.

I am casting Harrison Ford for your character.

Suldog said...

Uncle Jim - If you take me to court, I guarantee the bear won't be the only thing mooning you.

Janet - Thanks. I know some really nice lawyers, but you're right - at least in this instance. The lawyers seem to have found a goldmine in these two guys.

Miriam - Hey, good to hear from you! You know, you may be right, in that it's a good tale to remind us that most of us have better neighbors to be thankful for!

MLH - You are very kind. Thank you.

Re: The word "dick" - I actually went back and counted. It appears I only used it, or a variation, eight times. All of those were in the last two parts of the story. I thought I used it more. Thank you for letting me realize that I'm a relatively cleaner writer than I thought I was. I guess I'll have to try harder to wedge a few more dicks into the next piece I write, in order to maintain my image.

As for the backhoe, the less said the better.

GreenJello - Mmmmmm! Green Jello!

Suldog said...

Green Jello - Sorry. Got carried away, as it's lunchtime. Thanks for the kind words.

Lime - Mmmmmmm! Green Jello!

Bear Naked - Well, I mentioned earlier that Irish somewhat resembled Jerry Stiller. French looked a slight bit like Frankie Fontaine, but Fontaine is dead for many years now, so I don't think he's available. Harrison Ford for me? You are a very kind bear, but need glasses desperately.

Anonymous said...

Terrifically told, and kept me guessing. Would have loved it they ended up with nothing. Idiots. Still with all the costs there were out of pocket. Sad tale of teo blokes with too much testosterone and too much time on their hands.

Buck said...

Well, Jim... you definitely succeeded in turning a sow's ear into a silk purse, story-wise. But you'll never get those eight days back, will ya?

Anonymous said...

This could account for some very interesting conversation on Thanksgiving - we are invited, aren't we?

Just have to find some way to get the whole story to Bill without his having to read it all as his eyes are giving him some problems lately.

David Sullivan said...

Let me know next time you get the call because I play golf with a court officer and he could make a call if you don't want the torture again.

Unknown said...

Truth is always stranger than fiction.

I had a friend who was a cop way back when and they used to make about $45/hour for details back then. At 20 hrs/wk, 50 weeks a year that is a salary of $45,000

Chuck said...

I almost got to serve on a civil trial earlier this year. My, am I glad there was a last-minute continuance.

Saz said...

that was a heckava trial to get your teeth into...whatever wonder did everyone think about your writing furiously....
such a great read all through it...very winners or losers then, both dicks....
and dont you just love the word sagacity!??/

thank you

Suldog said...

Moannie - Indeed. Alpha males fighting for territory.

Buck - Well, I did get the good story out of it, as you say, so that's something...

Mom - Well, OF COURSE you're invited for Thanksgiving! Geez! Bring pie.

Cuz - Rest assured, I will take you up on that offer.

Jenn - French made considerably less in his most recent year. We were given the figures. Had they been higher, the award probably would have been, too.

Suldog said...

Chuck - A nice gruesome clean-cut murder trial would have been welcome, at some points during this.

FF&F - Sagacity is a GREAT word, and I'm glad I got to use it here. As for the writing furiously, I was taking more notes than anyone else, so far as I could see. Of course, I had it in the back of my mind that I might use the notes for writing it all up, too, so...

Anonymous said...

The 3 rules of lawsuits:

1. In any lawsuit, there are always four parties involved: the plaintiff and the plaintiff's lawyer, and the defendant and the defendant's lawyer.

2. Two of them will win, and two of them will lose.

3. The lawyers never lose.

(An old lawyer joke. I don't remember where I originally heard it.)

Angie Ledbetter said...

I feel sorry for the other jurors who didn't even get to blog about their duty in hell. Did y'all at least get hazardous pay? :)

Karen said...

Those dickwads shouldn't have "earned" a dime from that zoo of a trial, so good job!

Hilary said...

What a great story, and I think Miriam has the right idea. All you need now is a theme song.

I hope you shared your blog address with your fellow jurors so that they could read, nod and laugh along with the rest of us.

Thanks for the always-great entertainment. And not one sports score in the whole thing! ;)

Ericka said...

*sigh* it saddens me that you had to award either of them anything. more though, it saddens me that they have both spawned.

Cath said...

Jim, this has put me OFF any desire to ever do jury duty.
My curiosity is quenched, gone, forgotten.

Thank you.

~j said...

CRAP! i have cute Christmas ornaments. i'll need to make sure that they aren't mooning the neighbor (who happens to be a police officer). like i need any more pressure during the holiday season. thanks....thanks alot....

Jeni said...

I've been following along with this story from the beginning here but it wasn't until I began reading this post that I actually thought about lawyers and their fees. One can only hope that both of these jackasses learned a little lesson in civility, at the very least but odds probably are that neither of them learned diddly squat. It really would have been nice if you could have awarded them equal amounts so that neither of them came up "winning" anything at all but then, because some of the things Irish did actually did cause monetary damage to French, I suppose fair is fair. However, I would have asked for full reciepts of the costs of the damages and awarded that much and only that much -not a penny over that amount in my book. But, it's history now and they can both go figure out how in blazes they are going to be able to afford to pay their attorney fees!! Maybe that would be punishment enough cause boy, those fees are really steep.

FHB said...

Too funny. They've never accepted me ona jury. Went up about three times. Pain in the ass.

Judi FitzPatrick said...

I'm way behind in my reading, so just finished this up today.
This has to be one of the funniest blogs I have ever read and these 5 jury posts the best of all.
Thank you, suldog, for sharing your adventures with us. Congrats on making lemonade out of those lemons!
Peace, Judi

Brad A Moore said...

Stopped by after seeing you post this on UHUB.. Hilarious