Consider juror emotions, politics in wrongful birth cases.Courts respond to wrongful birth A Medical Malpractice claim brought by the parents of a child born with birth defects, alleging that negligent treatment or advice deprived them of the opportunity to avoid conception or terminate the pregnancy. claims in a wide variety of ways, largely because these cases require judges to evaluate not just the law, but also questions of morality, medicine, and society.
The Rhode Island Rhode Island, island, United States
Rhode Island, island, 15 mi (24 km) long and 5 mi (8 km) wide, S R.I., at the entrance to Narragansett Bay. It is the largest island in the state, with steep cliffs and excellent beaches. Superior Court, in an unpublished opinion, observed that these cases are essentially about abortion. (Schloss v. Miriam Hosp., 1999 WL 41875 (R.I. Super. Jan. 11, 1999).) Those who can accept the legality of abortion have no difficulty finding room in the common law tort of negligence for a claim of wrongful birth. Those who cannot accept it think no one should be compensated for being unable to have an abortion.
This observation highlights the way wrongful birth actions are intertwined with politically and emotionally charged views that jurors may hold. Plaintiff lawyers must keep this context in mind when handling a case.
Case evaluation. Be realistic in your evaluation. First, you should be comfortable with a woman's right to elect an abortion, for any reason, through the end of the second trimester Noun 1. second trimester - time period extending from the 13th to the 27th week of gestation
trimester - a period of three months; especially one of the three three-month periods into which human pregnancy is divided . If you are not, you will not be an effective advocate for your client's rights. Remember, most of the findings that lead to these abortions are discovered after the 15th week of gestation.
Second, you must feel that the average pro-abortion-rights juror juror n. any person who actually serves on a jury. Lists of potential jurors are chosen from various sources such as registered voters, automobile registration or telephone directories. would understand your client's decision. For example, one case that we chose not to handle involved a couple whose child was born without one hand but was otherwise healthy. The absence of the hand could be seen on the ultrasound printout (PRINTer OUTput) Same as hard copy. , and it was clear that someone at the hospital had simply missed it. Nevertheless, we thought that even a juror who favored abortion rights would have a hard time believing that the parents would have terminated the pregnancy for that reason.
Third, recognize the significance of religion. Evaluate your client's commitment to her right to choose. Always remember: Questions should focus on what the client would have done at that time, not now that the child is born.
Thanks to an adversary who asked a Catholic client of ours at deposition some rather aggressive questions, assuming that she would be troubled by them, we learned one of the most important questions to ask--and a common response. He asked our client, "Who did you ever tell of your views on abortion?" She answered that she had told her mother that she believed women had the right to choose abortion. She also provided the time and place of the conversation, which took place long before not only the deposition and the conception, but also before my client's marriage.
Since then, we ask every potential wrongful birth client, "Who can verify that you would have made the decision to terminate?" Surprisingly, perhaps, it is often the woman's mother.
Jury selection. This step is everything. You must argue that your clients have a right to a jury that fully accepts the legality of abortion. Try to get a written jury questionnaire that delves into each potential juror's views. You must convince the trial judge that you have the same right to screen potential jurors as someone trying a capital case. The argument is straightforward: There are no two issues on which most jurors have a more developed, embedded Inserted into. See embedded system. , and ardent conviction than the death penalty and abortion.
In our trials, we provide a 50-question screening questionnaire that asks potential jurors for their views on certain issues, to make sure every juror can confirm his or her acceptance of the right to a lawful abortion. Any juror who does not is challenged for cause. Individual voir dire voir dire
(Anglo-French; “to speak the truth”)
In law, the act or process of questioning prospective jurors to determine whether they are qualified and suitable for service on a jury. in chambers in chambers adj. referring to discussions or hearings held in the judge's office, called his chambers. It is also called "in camera." (See: in camera) is essential, because an entire panel could be voided void·ed
Having the central area cut out or left vacant, leaving an outline or narrow border: a voided lozenge. by one overzealous o·ver·zeal·ous
Excessively enthusiastic: overzealous movie fans; an overzealous manager.
Trial. Focus the testimony on the severity of the child's anomalies. This helps the jurors understand the devastating dev·as·tate
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.
2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark. consequences of your client's loss of the power to make her own decisions. Be sure you are comfortable with the language of abortion as a medical procedure and terms that distinguish a fetus from a child.
With careful selection and proper planning, these can be rewarding cases to pursue. Many of the families involved face heavy financial, emotional, and physical difficulties because of their children's special needs. These cases are a wonderful opportunity to ease these burdens and improve the child's life as well as that of his or her parents.
E. Drew Britcher, Aemand Leone, and Jessica Choper are partners at Britcher, Leone & Roth in Glen Rock, New Jersey Glen Rock is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the borough population was 11,546. Glen Rock is ranked in 47th place among the Highest-income places in the United States with a population of at least 10,000. .