Give me your tired…
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…
Says Lady Liberty at the mouths of the Hudson and East Rivers. I’m saying it to you – give me your poor and downtrodden because that is who needs the protection of the Seventh Amendment – the right to a civil jury trial – more than anyone. It’s not that people with means aren’t in need of the court house from time to time. It’s that most people with means I know, and I know a lot of them, have avenues they prefer to take to deal with their problems instead of going to the court house. Why? Because they have means. Ironically, however, those with means sometimes lack the empathy, because of the coziness that flows from means, to understand the need for the court house (i.e. the Seventh Amendment) and bite hard on the tort reform bait that smells of lawsuit abuse, higher insurance premiums, and even more expensive cereal at the grocery store. These friends of mine are always the first to call me and demand I sue immediately the person or company that ripped them off or backed out of a big real estate deal. I love them nonetheless and I’m hear to help.
But something about helping regular people really gets me going. Why? Because they’re poor and that makes you feel good about yourself, you egotistical hypocrite? No, not really. It seems that those who have fallen on hard times, or are coming out of hard times, tend to have a really inspiring story to tell. The overcoming of obstacles is what we all want to hear about. It’s the basis of every book we read, movie we watch, and story we tell to our friends over beers.
EXAMPLE – I just received a healthy jury verdict for a really nice lady who suffered an injury aboard a Metro bus in Houston. This particular lady had been addicted to drugs since some loser older man injected her with speed when she was eighteen-years-old. She never had a chance. Nonetheless, over a year before the injury, she woke up one morning and decided on her own that she didn’t want to live the way she had been living anymore. She made this decision having no real baseline to return to. She had been homeless and addicted most of her life, but she was still able to see it wasn’t the way. So, with both feet back on the ground, and having made supervisor of a fast-food restaurant, this nice lady happened to be injured. Any notion that she was exaggerating or faking the whole thing was squashed by the notion that she had been through hell in the past, had plenty of opportunities to “game the system” in the past, and never would have jeopardized her new track for a few bucks.
We likely could have kept the entire past life out of evidence. But our client’s story was inspiring, true, and too good to keep away from the jurors. All my love and respect to you KS for allowing us to tell your inspiring story.
The harder you’ve had it, the more material you have to inspire the world. I want to hear about it. Remember, I am a counselor.