Closing Arguments: When Appropriate,Remind Jurors Of Their Oaths

In the typical negligence case, it is not necessary that a jury be reminded that they have taken an oath to set aside any prejudice or biases they have and to render a verdict solely on the evidence and the law presented to them. However, there are cases of a more controversial nature where it might be necessary for counsel to consider reminding the jury of its oath. Examples would include medical malpractice cases and other controversial cases such as high speed police pursuits.
We all know about the propaganda campaign waged by the medical lobby and the Chamber of Commerce relative to caps on malpractice awards. As many observers have already noted, we do not need tort reform in Georgia because it has already occurred. The juries have been polluted by the massive propaganda campaign being waged against our clients. Thus, when a jury steps in the jury box, they may be fearful that if they return a verdict for a plaintiff, that they may be putting a doctor out of business or causing other doctors to leave this state. They may also be fearful that they will be participating in a “jackpot justice, lottery situation” where the plaintiff is made rich, as his attorney, while the poor doctor is sent home to pay the judgment himself. While we know that this propaganda is not true, nonetheless, juries have been so exposed to it that they may actually believe some of these falsehoods.
Accordingly, it might be necessary for counsel to advise the jury during summation that they promised during voir dire that they would follow the law and the evidence and that they should not disregard their oaths for fear of the collateral consequences of a just verdict.

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