From the configuration of the jury to gauging the emotional temperature of each juror, life in the courtroom is feeling much different than it did before COVID. On this episode of The Justice Team Podcast, Brandon Simon welcomes Bernard Alexander, Harry Plotkin, Claire Plotkin and Jason Sanchez to discuss how it’s all changed and how they pulled off 7, 8 and 9-figure verdicts in the process.
Bernard Alexander, Alexander Morrison + Fehr, LLP
Harry Plotkin, Your Next Jury
Claire Plotkin, Your Next Jury
Jason Sanchez, The Simon Law Group
Matthew Clandenin, The Clandenin Firm
Brandon Simon (00:08):
All right. Welcome everybody to this episode of the Justice Team Podcast. I almost said, “Good morning.” It’s afternoon when we’re recording this, but it’s not live so I guess it could be good morning to whoever’s watching it in the future. So we have a panel today. We’re going to be talking about juries and trials during and after COVID and how it’s impacted our industry, and how it’s impacted people’s personalities. And kind of trends we’re seeing from our juries, and seeing how they’ve used kind of their experiences with the pandemic and kind of changed their personality. So we’re going to go around and do some introductions. So Bernard, if you want to introduce yourself, you’re new to the Justice Team Podcast. We’ve never had you on before. So if you could say hello and introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about your firm, and your long tenure as a fantastic trial attorney and employment attorney. Take it away.
Bernard Alexander (01:05):
Thank you very much. My name is Bernard Alexander. Our firm is Alexander Morrison and Fehr. The firm in one iteration or another has been around for about… I know we’re coming up on 15 years. We do plaintiff employment law and civil rights. The employment is probably 80%, civil rights is 20%. I’ve tried probably 70 cases by now, but I’d say over 60 so I don’t have to count them. I typically try at least two cases a year, some cases more or less. And I’ve had verdicts ranging from 5 million, 10 million, to now 137, and I hope I haven’t peaked too soon. I created the Trial College for the California Employment Lawyers Association, CELA, and I’ve been instrumental in creating or at least managing the bootcamp for the National Employment Lawyers Association. So I’ve done a lot of training of people with regard to trials and the subject matter we’re talking about today jury selection.
Brandon Simon (02:18):
All right. Well, excellent. Thanks for coming on. We really appreciate it. Harry, Claire, if you guys want to… I don’t know how you usually introduce… Do you introduce one another? Is that how you usually do it?
Harry Plotkin (02:28):
We certainly could.
Claire Plotkin (02:30):
Harry, you can introduce yourself. I don’t care. Go ahead.
Harry Plotkin (02:34):
Well, first I was interested by this bootcamp thing that Bernard was talking about. What is the legal equivalent of a burpee for lawyers when you go to that bootcamp? Maybe you think about that and talk about it, but happy to be here.
Bernard Alexander (02:47):
Yes, picking the jury. And I’ve used Harry as a jury consultant, and I’ve just waited for Harry to get sick for a moment so I could use Claire. I’ve talked to Claire about being a jury consultant and people that she’s consulted with, and they are just fantastic in terms of being resources.
Harry Plotkin (03:08):
Everyone’s been waiting for me for the last couple years to get COVID, not just you Bernard, but I’m still holding out so far. But thanks. Thanks so much. Claire and I are jury consultants. We work for consumer cases, injury cases, and employment cases only on the plaintiff side. And that’s like 99% of our work. Once in a while we’ll do a boring commercial case or a patent case. When it’s a business suing a business, I don’t really care what side we’re on, but only plaintiff on this side. And so we both work on different cases. We don’t necessarily work on the same cases together, but we both work on different cases picking juries, doing focus groups, giving advice to lawyers on how best to present their case.
Harry Plotkin (03:48):
And our big thing these days is nuclear verdicts, my favorite topic to talk about. Brandon had asked, “Are you sick of talking about post-COVID juries?” But hopefully I’ll just be talking the next 10 years about nuclear verdicts and Armageddon verdicts. Technically the Tesla verdict that Bernard and I worked on was a Armageddon verdict of over a hundred million. So hopefully they’ll be the next level beyond Armageddon. But Claire, go ahead.
Claire Plotkin (04:14):
Yeah. I mean, I was going to bring up your verdict with Bernard if you weren’t going to to nicely pat you on the back. But yeah, no, I do, just like Harry said, I work with him occasionally on the same cases, but usually I do my own. And it’s not 137 million, but I did have the highest verdict in the Burbank courthouse July of 2021. So post-COVID verdict of 21 million for a wrongful death in a case that I actually told Harry when I went to pick the jury that, “I think there’s a 90% chance we’re going to lose. So I’m just going to hope for the best and pick a good jury.” And then….
Harry Plotkin (04:51):
It was a tough liability case against Caltrans, against the State of California. Yeah, for sure. In a case with a guy who was… It sounded like he was driving at 2:30 in the morning on a freeway and lost control of his car by himself. So it was a tough case, yeah.
Claire Plotkin (05:08):
I mean, I think Harry would have defensed the case. Harry’s like, “But he crashed.” Yeah, and I think I picked the first case against Lyft just this last fall. I think that might be the official first, at least in California, first verdict against Lyft.
Bernard Alexander (05:23):
Burbank, you get 21 million.
Claire Plotkin (05:24):
So it was not 137 million, but it was pretty good. Yeah, no Burbank 21 million I was thrilled with, yeah.
Bernard Alexander (05:30):
21 million is 40 million in Burbank. That’s a tough-
Claire Plotkin (05:33):
Well, thank you.
Bernard Alexander (05:33):
Claire Plotkin (05:36):
Bernard you would’ve loved that jury. It was a good jury.
Bernard Alexander (05:40):
I love every jury.
Claire Plotkin (05:42):
Bernard Alexander (05:44):
It’s whether they love me back.
Brandon Simon (05:46):
We have Jason Sanchez who is one of our resident trial attorneys. Jason, do you want to introduce yourself?
Jason Sanchez (05:51):
Yeah, sure. Jason Sanchez, the Simon Law Group. Joined SLG in August of 2021, had the distinct privilege of being a part of three trial teams since August all with verdicts for plaintiffs. And it’s been a great experience and an eye-opening experience too, as it relates to picking a jury these days.
Brandon Simon (06:18):
So yeah, a lot of ground to cover a lot of people with a lot of experience both before and after COVID. But Harry, Claire, you guys are involved in picking a lot of juries, what are you seeing? What’s different now, both in terms of physical difference, masks and communicating and also are people different? Are we changed by this? And are we taking it out on our verdicts?
Claire Plotkin (06:48):
Harry, go ahead.
Harry Plotkin (06:49):
You want me to go first? I think the thinking right after COVID hit when trials were shut down everywhere and there were about to come back, and people were wondering what was going to be different. I think the first thought people had was that the makeup of the jury is going to be different. And that might be true to a little bit of a degree, but for the most part the juries that I picked it’s not like the makeup is really that different. There’s older jurors come and there’s younger jurors come, and some people thought all the liberal jurors wouldn’t show up because they’d be nervous and all the conservative jurors wouldn’t show up because they didn’t care. And then some people thought the other way. “Well, if there’s a mask mandate…” Because I think every jury I picked the jurors have had to wear masks so far. And usually the lawyers too, even during voir dire and opening statement, there’ve been a few when they’re allowed to take it off from the podium.
Harry Plotkin (07:36):
But then they was thinking, well maybe the conservative jurors won’t show up because they don’t want to wear a mask all day and they don’t want to comply. From what I’ve seen, it’s pretty much very similar. There might be a little bit of some groups not showing up, but you get people from all walks of life. I think the main difference is that jurors, I mean the last couple of years have gotten a lot more raw emotionally. I think they appreciate and don’t take for granted things like quality of life and health, and people being alive. I think that people from what I’ve seen are a lot more fed up with BS excuses, there’s a lot more distrust of companies and how they conduct themselves. I don’t know if that’s so much from people being pissed off or just looking for an outlet to be off because of COVID. Or if they there’s been things that they’ve seen companies do in the last couple years, they’re just not happy with, I feel like it was starting before COVID slowly and COVID has just accelerated it.
Harry Plotkin (08:33):
But I’ve just noticed just a lot more outrage toward companies and a lot more jurors getting pissed off and polarized when the defense lawyers come in and kind of make excuses that don’t fly. I mean Bernard’s Tesla case was a great example of that where jurors just got super pissed off by things that five years ago they might not have been that angry about. And they were especially angry that Tesla in that case, I mean, there was a lot of issues in the case, but one of them was Tesla was saying, “We’re not even this guy’s employer, so we’re not even responsible for what goes on in the workplace, even though it was a Tesla factory.” They had a affirmative defense saying, “We’re not his employer, therefore we’re not responsible.” But what the jurors heard were, “We refuse to take responsibility for our workplace.” And just pissed them off 10 times worse.”
Claire Plotkin (09:20):
I agree with you. I would make the caveat though, that just because they’re angry at corporations doesn’t mean angry jurors are good for you. I would still argue that in a voir dire if there’s a ton of angry jurors, you still don’t want them. Do you know what I mean? If they’re angry about being at jury selection and the reason why I bring that up is I have seen, and Harry and I have discussed this. I have seen some waves during the pandemic of where jurors kind of got bad again. I feel like Harry and I both had very good verdicts in, I think it was about July of 2021. And I think it had something to do with being out in social again and not being worried about getting COVID because everybody had been newly vaccinated. And I think people were just really excited and happy to be there.
Claire Plotkin (10:08):
I mean Judge Stewart in Burbank commented on how it was the most talkative voir dire he’d ever seen. Because people were just so excited to have someone to listen to them. But then I feel like there was a little bit of going the other way in January of this year or December of last year when people were worried about Omicron and then people got scared again and didn’t want to be there. So I think it’s kind of… It is fluctuate based on how scared people are of COVID. Because I don’t want jurors who don’t want to be there or if they think they’re going to give their kids COVID by being there or whatever. That’s a tough one that we’ve had to navigate a little bit.
Brandon Simon (10:48):
Yeah. I think that’s… When I talk to most trial attorneys, that’s what they say, picking a jury is regardless of when it’s happening, COVID pre-COVID post COVID is you want people who want to be there and it’s hard to do when there’s a airborne virus that’s super contagious that nobody wants to catch. So-
Claire Plotkin (11:08):
Yeah. And in that vein, I think it is possible, especially during Omicron where the hysteria was pretty high early January. I definitely think there’s something to be said for some of the perhaps more cautious people getting off. That’s probably true. Right. But the people who came with like gloves and stuff, they all got off. So if you were to say that those people might give higher verdicts, which I don’t know I mean, maybe that it’s possible that edge was lopped off.
Brandon Simon (11:38):
Bernard I mean, you had obviously the massive verdict against Tesla. What has it been like representing employees during this phase of our history with workplace safety and people not necessarily being able to work because of the current situation we’re in, what was that like and what is it like representing employees in a COVID world?
Bernard Alexander (12:08):
Well, it’s interesting. I’m going to say for a number of reasons. So I had two trials last year and the first I lost and it was in front of Judge [inaudible 00:12:19] in long cause Los Angeles. And the main difference, and one of the reasons I thought we lost was really because my client was an attorney and did not make a good witness on the witness stand. But the jurors in terms of the jury itself, I actually liked the jurors and we were spread out. So in terms of picking the jury, it’s generally nice to have juries inside the box because you get this popcorn effect where one person said something and it kind of spreads among the jurors good and bad. And you can find out information from other jurors based on the reaction to the jury you’re talking to.
Bernard Alexander (12:57):
So you get that ability inside of Judge [inaudible 00:13:01] courtroom, they were spread out only, I think five were in the box and the rest were in the audience area spread out. And so you didn’t have that ability to have that interaction that you normally have even non verbally. So that was an oddity. Then you add everyone’s wearing a mask. You get a lot of cues from people from wearing a mask and the inability to be able to see their faces you can just see their eyes, and sometimes they darter that. And so you’re so limited in the feedback that you get. So that’s one of the things. So we had the Judge [inaudible 00:13:35] effect, different effect in federal court. And federal court. By the time of October, the court was allowing people to sit in the vicinity of each other, although they were spread out inside the courtroom, but you still got more of a feel.
Bernard Alexander (13:51):
As opposed to in a tight box. It was more like in a church where you see a choir, people were kind of spread out, but you could still get a wave of people. You could still get people reacting to each other. So there are consequences to the way judges kind of set up the courtroom in reaction to the circumstances. But the thing that… In terms of the people that we’re getting, I think the time of people sitting alone being forced to watch television, being forced to see what’s going on in the world, and not having the ability to communicate with people in person. I think we have that dynamic that we’re dealing with when we’re dealing with jurors. The Black Lives Matters occurring during that people being this kind of confirmation, people might have thought maybe this doesn’t really occur, but now it occurs. And if it can occur in that aspect, remember we’re dealing with the race discrimination case with regard to the Tesla matter. And we’re dealing with race issues with regard to Black Lives Matters.
Bernard Alexander (14:54):
So I think people being forced at home to see current events and see that this could happen and then seeing it happen in the workplace, a different form of race discrimination, I think that had some effect.
Brandon Simon (15:09):
Yeah, I guess this pandemic’s been going on for long enough now, I guess you kind of forget the things that have occurred while we’re, were under not a lockdown, but while we’re in pandemic. I mean, I kind of forgot that a lot of the Black Lives Matter really took off recently with George Floyd and the riots. That was during COVID. And you make a good point. People are home and we’re watching TV more and maybe we are socially more aware because of that. Maybe it’s just the natural progression of psyche and human beings. But that’s an interesting point that people are stuck at home watching TV. And that’s what we see. And hey, maybe we’re paying attention to this stuff more. It’s a good point. Jason, you’ve… Sorry, go ahead Harry.
Harry Plotkin (15:55):
Yeah. Some people I think have more time for Twitter than they used to thanks to COVID. I know that your brother Bob always has time for social media, but for the rest of us, we actually have more time for it. So that’s always nice. Go ahead Jason.
Brandon Simon (16:07):
Jason you’ve tried three cases during COVID, since you came to us, what’s been your… Were they all different venues or were they all the same venue?
Jason Sanchez (16:16):
The first one was actually downtown LA. The other two were actually Van Nuys and they were almost a month apart. Van Nuys in October Van Nuys in November. And it was an interesting experience because the LA one was August, and it was downtown LA. And so everybody was in the box and there was no social distancing. October of Van Nuys. Everybody was spread out. You had people in the box, you had people behind you much like what Bernard was saying. And so during jury selection it was hard to read everybody because you’re looking behind you and you can’t see how the people in the box are reacting to what’s being said. That was an interesting experience, but I would also echo what Claire said too. I think that people were cooped up for so long they were almost longing to talk to other people. And it also helped juries kind of coalesce. They grouped up faster and you could see different factions developing as the trial goes on. So that was an interesting experience too.
Claire Plotkin (17:28):
I would say this is not really a juror attitude, but it’s been a negative side effect I’ve seen of COVID juries in the last year. Maybe I’ve been unlucky, but I feel like because of the distancing and the nature of having so many jurors in a courtroom and a judge trying to bend over backwards for jurors’ convenience. I’ve been forced to do a lot of jury selections with horrific time limits, with a lot of jurors all at once. And let’s do 30 in 30 minutes, that kind of thing. And I’ve had that happen. I mean, easily five of my 20 juries in 2021 easily were like that. And I mean, that’s very hard to pick a good jury.
Harry Plotkin (18:16):
Yeah. I mean, and you talk about jury anxiety, but judges are kind of anxious and a lot of them are wanting to just, especially jury selection, to speed it along, get it done as quickly as possible because that’s the only time where they have a ton of people in the courtroom. And so they’re probably wanting to clear that out as quick as they can so. But one thing I found that makes a huge difference we’ve been talking about, I’m sure Jason, I’m sure you saw this. I’m curious to hear your thoughts too, is that… And especially during COVID, but even before COVID and after COVID’s long gone, hopefully. There is a big difference between a judge who is lenient on hardships and one who is really strict on hardships. On the plaintiff side, we love it when judges are super lenient and get rid of everyone who doesn’t want to be there and the people that are there, nobody’s pissed off.
Harry Plotkin (19:01):
They’re all at least okay being there. But for those judges who make it really strict and you get a bunch of people in the box who are pissed off to begin with, that makes a huge difference. You got to use a lot more strikes on those folks and just totally changes the tone of everybody. Jason, did you have differences for you in judges let people go or not?
Jason Sanchez (19:19):
Three very different experiences. The first one in LA was very methodical and we spent two days just trying to qualify people for hardships. The second one, the judge was very much of the opinion that if they didn’t want to be there, or if they had a slight problem being there, the judge didn’t want them there to begin with. And they were gone. The third judge was like, “All right, plaintiff’s council, defense council. Here’s the hardship questionnaires. You guys figure it out. And then what you can’t agree on I’ll then decide.” And so it was a really interesting experience.
Bernard Alexander (19:59):
Well, I think it’s really impressive that you got verdicts in Van Nuys, because Van Nuys is also a very tough venue. There’re different venues for different reasons. It’s not just the neighborhood you draw from, but it’s kind of a resistance that you get. And so when Harry’s talking about conservative judges, it’s one thing if the judge is lenient in letting people go, but he also gives you time to do voir dire. But if they give you 30 minutes to pick the jury and then they give you a limited time to do the voir dire. That just ruins the whole process because you don’t have to get jurors that are on your side, but you need to get jurors that are receptive. And if you can just have the time to get receptive jurors, then you can get through the trial. But to rush that part of the trial, as opposed to other things, I’d rather than put me on a time schedule, tell me, “This is how much time you get.”
Bernard Alexander (20:53):
But give me the time to pick a good jury, because it does no good to throw pearls to swine. You got to have receptive jurors in order to have a shot at winning. And certainly if you’re the underdog, right. And certainly if you’re in Van Nuys or Burbank where they don’t want to give away money.d
Harry Plotkin (21:13):
Especially with masks too, the one thing I found and that we realized in the first couple jury selections that we did after COVID was we rely so much on a jury talking and looking around and seeing who’s kind of nodding their heads or who’s got a big smile on their face. Or who’s got a sour expression on their face or whatever. Who’s rolling their eyes. Like you lose a lot of that. And so one of the things we found out is you have to ask a lot more open ended questions and get the jurors talking and you got to make sure to ask one-on-one questions to everybody because it’s so easy with masks and a spread out courtroom to realize when you’re done with your voir dire and you’re picking the jury to go, “Oh my gosh, we didn’t talk to these four folks who are the back corner. And we don’t know anything about them. I didn’t even see if that person was even smiling or not. I didn’t get anything on them.”
Harry Plotkin (21:57):
So during COVID with masks on, it takes more time to pick a jury, I think, in voir dire everybody. And so when you have a restriction, it’s just really tough to do it, but you got to make sure [inaudible 00:22:09] 30 minutes, you got to make sure you get at least one question for every person and make sure [inaudible 00:22:13].
Claire Plotkin (22:13):
I had a restriction in Orange County just, I don’t know, a month ago. And I told Harry, luckily I got enough cause challenges that I used a strike on somebody who didn’t really even say anything, all that bad, but I just got a sense that underneath his mask, he was smirking. And I mean, it’s silly to say that, but in a real jury session, pre-COVID, I did rely on smirking. There is like a very standard juror that I can pick from a mile away who wants nothing to do with your case, because they think they’re better than it or whatever. And you can tell from the look on their face. But yeah, if you don’t have cause challenges or you don’t have enough time, then you don’t get that gut reaction. So I was just lucky there and I felt kind of bad. I told the lawyer, “I’m just going off a gut instinct here, but I just really think he’s smirking but I can’t confirm it.”
Bernard Alexander (23:02):
But the smirk is a big deal because I always tell my clients, “Look, I’m going to get a vibe from the jury, but I need you to be looking at the jury. And if you get a vibe from one of them where they don’t like you, you got to let me know. And the fact that people can’t have their masks off because it’s like you walk into a party, people are repelled sometimes. They’re repelled by the story. They’re repelled by some way that your client looks and that’s enough. Right. But if you don’t get to see that, because I’ve done the same thing on a hunch because that person, I just don’t like the way they’re looking. And that is enough that’s what jury selection’s supposed to be about. And you miss that.
Claire Plotkin (23:40):
I actually had a trial in Santa Monica in October where the plaintiff attorney made the choice to have all of his witnesses, including his client present on Zoom because he really didn’t want his client to be masked. Because he had a TBI and he really thought it was important for the jury to see his face. And we’ll never know whether or not it was a good choice, but it was 2 million on verdict so.
Bernard Alexander (24:08):
Yeah. In federal court, our judge, once you got onto the witness stand, or once you were asking questions of witnesses, then the attorneys could take off their mask. The witness got a choice as to whether they took their mask off or not. So they did get to see them. But that’s a big trade off. They can see my client’s whole mask, but they’re on television. Like it’s not real or they’re inside the courtroom with the mask. I’m not sure which one, that’s a tough choice.
Claire Plotkin (24:35):
It’s a really tough one. It worked out. But I don’t know if I’d recommend it for everybody.
Jason Sanchez (24:38):
Harry, Claire, do you guys find that jurors actually pay more attention because witnesses or the attorneys are actually wearing masks, so they have to listen more or not?
Harry Plotkin (24:51):
I don’t know. That’s a good question. I don’t know. I would guess that they are, from what I’ve heard, sometimes they’re frustrated by struggling to hear quite as well. So maybe subconsciously they’re trying a little harder, but I don’t think that they’re necessarily paying more attention than they were, but I think they’re frustrated that they’re not getting a lot of… When a witness does have a mask on, they’re not getting a lot of… The same way that they would read somebody’s credibility. I have heard jurors be frustrated about that. Especially the ones who were like early on, who were like, “If they spread out the jurors…” I heard a couple cases where they were like way in the back of the audience, because they’re so spread out and they were going, “I can’t even see the witness, especially with a mask on 50 feet away.” So it’s frustrating for them.
Bernard Alexander (25:39):
And my trial in February, the jurors in the back relied on a juror that was sitting closest to my client or the witness stand, who said that my client before he’d answer would look up and kind of roll his eyes. And that made her believe that he wasn’t being truthful because he’s got the mask on and he looks like he’s robbing a bank. I mean, she didn’t say that part, but that’s my interpretation. So basically the determination of the credibility of my client was the lady sitting in the front, she made the entire determination for the entire jury. It’s the only trial where I picked the foreperson. I picked the person who turned out to be the foreperson. She was on my side and I lost, she couldn’t convince others. That’s never happened to me.
Brandon Simon (26:24):
In terms of… I mean, these are all great stories and difficulties picking a jury. But in terms of… Are you finding after… Because obviously we’re allowed to speak to the jury after we get a verdict, ask them what they thought about this. Harry, have you found it, I know you’ve talked about this before, because I’ve heard you talk about this before, but I know in our firm internally we had fears that coming out of COVID and doing verdicts again, people were going to be stingy with money and they were going to say, “I’ve gone through this tough shit. Pick it up and deal with it like I did.” But by and large, at least in our firm and I think you have found quite the opposite has happened.
Harry Plotkin (27:05):
Exactly. Yeah. That was the fear for sure. That people would say… It’s a wrongful death case and I’ve seen so many people have lost loved ones to COVID or some people have lost their jobs or employment case. So everybody’s going through the same thing, buddy. Suck it up. But yeah, it’s exactly been the opposite. I think people are just more appreciative of health and quality of life. I think they’re more appreciative of a job and they’re kind of blaming rather than kind of saying suck it up. They’re kind of blaming whoever caused the harm or in employment cases, employers that weren’t responsible, they’re kind of blaming them for it. I think it’s kind of like the same thing with people who, what is it called?
Harry Plotkin (27:46):
The great resignation or whatever. People are expecting kind of better out of life after the last couple years. And so people’s standards are up despite the fact that it’s been tough. And I think that’s a great thing for us is that they’re kind of saying, “No, I expect better of companies, I expect better of employers. I know for me the next couple years better be great. And I’m going to get pissed off if I hear somebody’s has an injury that basically puts them back in lockdown mode for the rest of their life.
Claire Plotkin (28:17):
I will add though. I feel like that is definitely the case if your defendant is a business. I feel like I’ve had a couple verdicts that were sort of uncharacteristically low for me against an individual. Like a car accident where it’s like one person against one person. And that being said, both of them were very limited voir dire. So perhaps it could have been fleshed out better with how people feel about a individual defendant. But I felt like maybe COVID made people a little more sensitive to another person’s individual financial hardship, perhaps for those people who aren’t fully aware that insurance is just paying for it. But they think it’s coming out of the individual’s pocket. I definitely felt like I had one defendant who was just a really nice young African American guy. And I think the jury was like, “Come on, we’re not going to award a ton of money against him.” So-
Brandon Simon (29:12):
You got to get juror declarations saying that they felt sympathy for the party and yeah, that’s interesting.
Harry Plotkin (29:20):
And I mean, you got to polarize the case. I mean, obviously a case against an individual driver, especially if they had liability, it’s a lot tougher to get jurors angry. But I think you’re always on the plaintiff’s side. Always had to find a way to work in some kind of betrayal to polarize the jurors. I mean, so even if it’s-
Brandon Simon (29:38):
[inaudible 00:29:38] a good point about someone not being able to work. I mean, before COVID we kind of built in our general damages stories through that. People’s livelihoods, a lot of people really take pride in what they do, even if it’s a blue collar job that’s not that glorifying. People take pride in being able to go out and do a construction job, 10 hours a day and put food… You take that away from people and now people probably, and Bernard, you can probably speak to this as an employment attorney. People probably resonate with that more now that people… “Hey, I lost my job because of COVID.” Or whatever. So that’s an interesting take.
Bernard Alexander (30:12):
Well, I think that coming back after COVID people who have wanted to be in their jobs who see someone that’s trying to be in their job and has it taken away, I think that has an impact. In employment law. I think we always have an advantage because people on the jury are generally employees and there’s some way to have a connection. I mean, I’d always tell people for me, the real point of doing the jury voir dire is to find out who the jurors are. So I can find the story that my client can tell, because there’s lots of pieces of it so it can echo the people inside the jury. And goes back to the point that Claire was making to not have time to spend time with the jury. You really don’t know who your audience is. So you can actually talk to them so that you can echo what they’ve experienced. Because that’s how I get damages. They’re upset because this could have happened to them. And it’s some version of an experience that has happened to them. Right.
Claire Plotkin (31:12):
I will tell you one takeaway I had from the Lyft trial because we did questionnaires. And granted it’s Sacramento, which might be a slightly better venue than… I mean, I’m sure it’s better than Van Nuys. But I was shocked we had a vicarious liability question on the questionnaire. Who here thinks… What do you think about holding an employer responsible for the actions of his employees? And I mean, the answers were awesome. I mean, I think 90% of the jurors thought it was important, that it was necessary. And they talked a lot about employer negligence and you need to hold employers responsible or else they’ll take advantage. And so I thought that was a different… Maybe that we wouldn’t have seen that three years ago or I just got a really lucky panel, but I mean I-
Harry Plotkin (32:00):
That’s definitely a sign of the times I think, that’s something that you wouldn’t have seen. You would’ve seen at least half of the jurors before saying, “Why are you holding a company responsible for what one of their drivers runs a red light, or does something bad?” And it’s kind of the same thing. When I was picking a jury, I don’t know when it was, it was like in the summer with Gary [inaudible 00:32:20]. It was an interesting admitted liability case against the city of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills police department had caused a crash and were admitting fault in the crash. And you’d be shocked at the number of jurors that we had to battle to and lost for cause because so many of them… And I’m talking about, I mean, I’m just thinking anecdotally, I remember there was types of jurors you never would’ve thought would be anti-police.
Harry Plotkin (32:46):
I remember there was like an Asian American doctor who worked at Kaiser. There was like this older white guy who was like a CFO of a startup or something like that. And they were like, “I’m sorry, I’m biased against the police. And I’m pro Black Lives Matter.” And all these things. And I was like, this is just a sign of the times. I mean, this is ultimately… It was bad for us that we were struggling to keep any of these folks and we’re losing a ton of jurors, which comes into play. Which prehabbing your jurors by the way is incredibly important. And convincing those jurors they can be fair as long as they can just wait to the evidence to decide the case. Number one thing, by the way that’s so important to tell your jurors in the start of voir dire is you are allowed to get angry.
Harry Plotkin (33:28):
If the evidence makes you angry you’re allowed to feel sympathy in this case, because the defense will get up there, they always trick the jurors and saying, “Sympathy has no place in here and you can’t prejudge the case.” But you tell them those things, you’re allowed to as long as it’s the evidence. Anyway but I was just shocked. I mean the number of people that five years ago would’ve been like, “I don’t really like lawsuits and I’m going to always be for the police.” I mean, it was like 70% of the jurors. This was downtown LA, of jurors, otherwise who were like BLM and I don’t trust the police and I can’t be fair in this case.
Brandon Simon (33:58):
Think you might get different answers in Riverside, San Bernardino than LA. [inaudible 00:34:03]
Harry Plotkin (34:04):
To some degree, but I think it [inaudible 00:34:06] 50/50 now like 80/20 against you. Yeah.
Claire Plotkin (34:10):
I mean, and one thing I’ve noticed and Harry I think you might agree is that I think that COVID and this polarization of the country has made people more entrenched in their beliefs. So I have found that the bad jurors, I feel like I’m getting them off for cause a little easier because they’re just like really angry. And I mean that this is where Harry, the prehabbing is super important, because I don’t want to lose my super awesome, great plaintiff jurors. So I have to try to arm them to listen to the evidence wait to just make their decision, all that kind of stuff. But for the bad people, “Ooh, sounds like you’re already leaning towards the defense.” “Yes I am.” Okay. I mean, definitely I feel like I’ve seen a lot of that. And they’re more willing to speak up about it. I don’t know if maybe people have been given like an okay to be more candid. I don’t know. I feel like brutal honesty is easier now in 2021 than maybe it was in 2018 [inaudible 00:35:11].
Bernard Alexander (35:10):
You throw a little red meat out for them so that you can get them off for cause.
Claire Plotkin (35:15):
Yep. And cause challenges. I mean, especially when you’re in a bad venue cause challenges make all the difference.
Bernard Alexander (35:22):
Claire Plotkin (35:22):
Because six strikes is not a lot.
Brandon Simon (35:25):
No. So Jason, we talked to you a little bit about the three cases that you tried. Actually, we’re talking a little about prehabbing jurors. I mean, before I jump onto Jason, can you kind of explain? I know what prehabbing is. Is this a term that you’ve coined, prehabbing?
Harry Plotkin (35:42):
Yeah. It is. It’s my-
Claire Plotkin (35:43):
It’s a Harry Plotkin patent. Yeah.
Harry Plotkin (35:46):
[inaudible 00:35:46] I’ve been using more and more. And the better the case and the better the jurors, the more it’s important. It’s one of the things that literally every case I think it’s important to do now is get up there and I’ll kind of demonstrate how it works, is we as plaintiff attorneys get to go firs. And we get to frame for the jurors what bias is and isn’t before the defense gets to get up there and try to convince them that anybody who has feelings or anybody who doesn’t like corporations can’t be fair. And of course we don’t ever get to prehab anybody. They get to prehab the jurors that we try to get off our cause, but we don’t get a chance to get up again. And so it’s so important that we do it up front and it’s a big advantage.
Harry Plotkin (36:27):
But basically what it involves is one of the first things you get up there and you say, “You’re allowed to get upset. All of you are capable of being fair jurors. Even if those of you who’ve had a negative experience.” Like let’s say, I don’t know, throw out a case Brandon or type of a defendant that you’re suing or anything.
Brandon Simon (36:44):
You’re asking me to throw out a name?
Harry Plotkin (36:46):
Yeah. Give me any example of like an unpopular defendant or a case or anything like that.
Brandon Simon (36:52):
Bernard Alexander (36:53):
Brandon Simon (36:53):
Claire Plotkin (36:55):
Do it against Kaiser. That’s a good one. People like Kaiser.
Brandon Simon (36:56):
Oh yeah. There you go. Nobody likes Kaiser.
Bernard Alexander (36:58):
Oh yeah, everybody loves Kaiser.
Harry Plotkin (37:01):
I’m talking the opposite where you have a problem keeping good jurors. I’m talking about a sex abuse case where everybody gets pissed off and [inaudible 00:37:10] sex abuse [inaudible 00:37:11].
Brandon Simon (37:11):
Or something like that. Yeah.
Claire Plotkin (37:12):
Harry Plotkin (37:12):
Yeah. Or could be-
Claire Plotkin (37:16):
Harry honestly, any kind of wrongful death case, people always have really strong feelings and are sad about it.
Harry Plotkin (37:19):
Well, I’ll give you an example of what a jury I picked a few weeks ago that’s still in trial, hopefully closed in next week against a nursing home wrongful death case. And you basically say… Because there’s a ton of jurors and we knew this on the questionnaire, but even without it, there’s going to be a ton of jurors who are like, “Nursing homes are awful. I’ve had horrible experiences. They’re the worst.” And you’re going to just lose all those people. Every one of those people that you can convince in your voir dire that they can be fair is one strike that you’ve just taken away from the defense. Because let’s say there’s three people that the defense knows that they have to strike. And you convince those people that they say, “No, no, no, I can be fair.”
Harry Plotkin (37:54):
And they don’t get on off for cause that’s three strikes they have to burn that they wouldn’t have had to burn. So you basically just took away three of their six strikes. And so the way that you do it is you get up there and you say, “I’m sure all of you have had experiences good or bad maybe with nursing homes.” Let me pull up my thing so I can tell you exactly. “I’m sure you’ve heard a little bit about what this lawsuit is about. I’m sure many of you have strong feelings about the elderly, about accusations of elder abuse. Some of you may have had elderly loved ones or ones in nursing homes. Some of you may have had good experiences. Some of you may have had bad experiences. None of that makes you unable to be a fair juror.
Harry Plotkin (38:32):
To be a fair juror all you have to do is let the facts decide for you. Whether you think this defendant did something careless and irresponsible in this one situation or not. Does that sound fair? And everyone’s kind of going “Okay.” And you tell them, “You’re allowed to get upset at the evidence. If you think a company did something upsetting, wait until you hear the evidence to decide how you feel.” And you tell them, “You’re allowed to be…” “Everyone will be able to let the evidence decide for you if there’s something to be angry about and who to be angry at without jumping to conclusions.” And when you start saying these things, some of your good jurors who really hate corporations or nursing homes or whoever it is, they start kind of nod their heads. And they’re like, “Oh, I totally get it.” Because they want to help you obviously.
Harry Plotkin (39:17):
And I believe you got to go through each one of them, “Hey how many of you have ever had a bad experience with the nursing home?” And you get those jurors raising their hands and you got to go through them one at a time. And you say, “Now has that experience…” Obviously that wasn’t the same as this defendant. No it wasn’t. “So did that experience convince you that sometimes not always, but sometimes nursing homes are awful places that do terrible things?” And they’re like, “Yeah.” “And did that experience make you feel like when they do a horrible job, they should be held accountable?” And they’re like, “Damn straight.” And you’re like, “Great that’s exactly what the law says.” “So, all I can say is, can you be on the side of the facts in this case? Can you let the evidence decide for you, whether you have a reason to be upset at this nursing home or not, regardless of what you’ve seen before.
Harry Plotkin (40:00):
And most of the jurors, you’re not going to get to save everybody, but most of them will be like, “Yeah, I could do that. Absolutely.” And they’re like, “I’m ready to get pissed off, but I’m going to wait”. And then the key question, then you say, “If the evidence convinces you that this nursing home wasn’t one of the bad ones and they didn’t do anything wrong. You’re not going to find them guilty anyway, are you?” And they’re like, “Of course I wouldn’t do that.” And you’re like, “Great.” And once you do it with one person, it makes it easier to do it with each successive person.
Harry Plotkin (40:25):
And like I said, you’re not going to get everyone. There’s some people who don’t want to be on there. Or some people who are just too honest and they’re going to be like, “Sorry I’m going to…” But if you can get even one of those people or even better, if you can get five or six of those people, you just prehab them. And when you do that, they know exactly what to say to the defense. They know exactly what to say to the judge. They’re like, “I’m totally fair. I’m going to let the evidence decide. Doesn’t matter if I’m pissed off at other companies.” So yeah, that’s [inaudible 00:40:52]
Brandon Simon (40:51):
John, I wanted to ask you a question. You tried a case against the school district during COVID.
Claire Plotkin (40:59):
I was going to say [inaudible 00:40:59].
Brandon Simon (41:02):
Yes. I don’t think the bullying occurred like during COVID obviously, right?
Jason Sanchez (41:06):
No, no. It was before.
Brandon Simon (41:07):
You still had to deal with [inaudible 00:41:09] You still had to deal with, I’m assuming either teachers or principal, or people that are public school employees. Was there any biases, do you feel like against, or that were in favor of giving these people a break because teachers and COVID and all that stuff, did that come into play at all?
Jason Sanchez (41:32):
Sure. I mean, there were several people that that were prospective jurors that were like, “I went to LAUSD.” That wasn’t the school district that was part of our case. But, “They were always screwing things up. Or, “They were always this.” Or, “They were always that.” And so I didn’t have the background of Harry’s preconditioning, but it was certainly a situation where we’re trying to differentiate what their experience was with that district versus what was happening over here, without giving too much away. So there was a lot of that. There was also a lot of look, teachers do the best they can. They can’t be everywhere all the time. So fortunately Claire actually gave me some good questions to ask some prospective jurors on protection and schools’ responsibilities, and how they feel that way. But yeah, that was definitely there.
Brandon Simon (42:33):
Yeah. And I feel like getting the school district or somebody that’s a teacher on the hook given their job, and somebody that’s been really affected by what’s been going on is probably tough that there’s going to be some inherent bias towards educators even before COVID. But especially now I feel like that’s a pretty uphill battle.
Jason Sanchez (42:52):
Well, there was-
Claire Plotkin (42:52):
Jason Sanchez (42:55):
Yeah. I was just going to say there, there was that, but then there was also, I mean, we had I think we just unfortunately, or fortunately, and unfortunately at the same time, the pool that we had was a largely male dominant, early to mid 20s pool that are all sitting there like, “Fights happen at school. So what?” That was a huge thing to overcome too. Go ahead, Claire. I’m sorry.
Claire Plotkin (43:20):
Well, I have thoughts towards both of these actually. One, I would say as someone who has utilized the trademark Harry Plotkin prehabbing method, and I do it a lot, if you’re going to do it, first of all you should. And second of all, you need to be all in on it. You can’t do it in a half assed way. And I know this because I’ve offered the advice, it’s kind of stressful. Pre-habbing because then you’re like, “Well shoot. Now I’m pointing out people who have bad opinions and what if the defense attorney wouldn’t have noticed this otherwise? And now I’m highlighting good people, but no, if the defense attorney does it and you didn’t then they have all these things to just pick off. And you’re not always going to be up against defense attorneys who don’t know what they’re doing in voir dire. So if you have a defense attorney who’s actually good, you need to prehab.
Claire Plotkin (44:10):
And that was one thing when I did that Lyft case against a very good defense attorney, Harry was, I mean, I remember Harry told me before I left, “Do not let the lawyer get away without prehabbing.” And I was like, “I’ll do my best.” It was an uphill battle for sure, because people have strong feelings on ride share services and on wrongful death.
Harry Plotkin (44:29):
And a good defense attorney will know if you don’t prehab them, that’s a golden opportunity. They’re going to like, easily I’m going to get off every juror who feels sympathy for someone, whether it’s a kid, school bullying.” Or whatever, every juror who doesn’t like or trust schools or Lyft or corporations, easy call. And they’re going to trick the jurors. They’re going to tell them, “You’re not allowed to feel sympathy. You have to leave it at the door outside the courtroom, which is totally not true. They’re allowed to feel sympathy and sometimes they’ll say, “Yeah can you look…” I mean, one time I even had to go as far as get lawyers to object when the defense lawyer was going, “Can you look the plaintiffs in the eye and tell them they get nothing?” And the jurors were like… We were starting to lose them. And I was like, You don’t have to actually tell them that. And one of the jurors were like, “Oh, I don’t? I thought he was telling me that that’s what we had to do.”
Harry Plotkin (45:21):
So I shut that down really quick, I mean, the things that you know that they’re going to do, because you’ve seen him do it a million times, you got to shut that down before it even starts. So important.
Claire Plotkin (45:31):
Another good one where I wanted to do it. But once again, time got away from us because we were given 15 minutes because it was federal. And unfortunately, unlike Bernard, I didn’t have the luxury of having a bunch of questions that I was able to create beforehand. I came in last minute. So all the questions that had been submitted to the judge were submitted before I was involved, but it was an LAUSD case. And same thing, had we been able to properly prehab the four jurors who had very negative LAUSD experiences. I mean, those would’ve been there. And maybe we wouldn’t have had enough strikes for them because you only have three. But the attorney was… It was just hard. It was hard for her. And the time limit was too much. I think it was 10 minutes. Yeah. I think it was 10 minutes and prehab [inaudible 00:46:22]. Yeah and prehabbing takes a good amount of time unfortunately.
Bernard Alexander (46:25):
I think it’s always dangerous to not do something in hopes that you aren’t going to tip the other attorney off. That’s like being afraid of the dark. You got to do the best that you can when you’re out there and see what the other side does. I mean, the plaintiff’s the first one that gets up and you do all this work to get the jury all warmed up and now they’re speaking and talking. And then the next person gets up and the jury thinks, “Oh, this is the way it’s supposed to be.” And so they’re speaking and talking with them, that’s just the way it works. You basically have to take your best shot.
Claire Plotkin (47:01):
I think the best most successful way to do voir dire besides obviously what Harry said, prehabbing and finding your badgers is have a good pet question that you know is like a litmus test for a good juror for you. That is not obvious to the defense. And so at the least once you’ve deselected, you might have a couple people who are like, “I got some really good answers from like these three.” And if the defense leaves these three on, because they’re clueless, then this is a solid jury. And obviously those questions take a lot of thinking like for that Caltrans case. The clincher question was who here thinks that a property manager or property owner has a duty to preempt accidents from happening on a property? Look around, maintain before they happen, or should they just wait until somebody reports an accident. And all the jurors who said, “No, you have a duty to prevent it ahead of time do all the work ahead of time.” Those were good people. And the defense [inaudible 00:48:01].
Bernard Alexander (48:00):
If you have limited time, do you focus on the people that are the leaders or what do you? Because time is always the issue. I mean, you bump up into one juror and he starts eating up your time or she. Or you can’t tell who they are. They keep being dodgy. And you’re trying to get underneath the veer to figure out whether to keep them or not. How do you deal with… When you have a limited amount of time and you got to make progress I try and focus on the people that I think are going to be the leaders. What do you guys suggest?
Claire Plotkin (48:33):
Yeah I start with shows of hands and then go from there with limited time. And I kind of assume that cause challenges they’re going to be very few. Right. Harry what would you do? I didn’t mean to cut you off.
Harry Plotkin (48:47):
If a limited amount of time? I mean, if you have a really limited amount of time where you’re running at of time and you feel like you haven’t heard from everybody, for sure. Yeah I would say like I if I was writing a note, and the judge is like, “Five minutes.” Or 10 minutes or something, I’m writing a note to the lawyer I’m working with and saying, “Ask this one question and ask it to these four jurors. Because those are the ones that I’m not sure about. Either I haven’t heard enough from them and I think that they’re leaders. I mean, if I think a juror’s going to be quiet. I’m not even going to bother, but yeah. So it’s certainly like, here are the ones that I think are going to be really strong jurors one way or the other. I need to know more about them. If it’s someone I already know enough about, that I have a good read on them not necessarily, but yeah somebody who is a leader.
Harry Plotkin (49:24):
Who’s going to be a really forceful juror and you are not… You need to be more sure of them than anybody else. For sure.
Claire Plotkin (49:29):
Yeah. Like if you were sitting there and you have a few minutes left, and you have a CEO of a tech company and a and a vice president of a bank, I need to hear from them. I mean, I guess I could assume they stink, but I’d rather talk to them first because they could also be a really good juror. A really forceful one.
Harry Plotkin (49:45):
And that’s the thing is… That’s a great point, Claire, that we only have six strikes and you really don’t have the luxury of using a lot of the strikes on people that you just have a good, bad vibe from the surface of. You’re like, “Well that guy’s a CFO. I’m definitely striking him.” Okay. One of your strikes is out the door and that might have been a great juror for you. Now it may be that 80% of CFOs, white CFOs work for the big corporation or whatever that person is, are bad for you. But one time out of five, you just struck your best juror over there. So make sure, I mean we always want to make sure. And I think even [inaudible 00:50:20].
Claire Plotkin (50:21):
And I would add to that the defense attorney usually cannot bring themselves to strike an old white dude. So if you have a good old white dude, they’ll probably stay on. I mean, it’s the truth.
Harry Plotkin (50:35):
Bernard Alexander (50:35):
Don’t tell our secrets.
Jason Sanchez (50:39):
We actually had one in the trial at October in Van Nuys and he was an accountant. And so we were kind of worried about him at first as far as it came to calculating non-economic damages, right. And he was also a very strong personality and an old white dude. And so this particular judge allowed the jurors to ask questions and he had a question for every witness. And it was a total rollercoaster because some days or some witnesses, he had really good questions. Other witnesses were like, “Oh, we lost it.” It was such a rollercoaster, but he ended up being a great juror for us.
Claire Plotkin (51:21):
Yep. Yep. Seeing in that Caltrans case, I mean, I really thought this one juror gave me… He kept me up at night after I picked the jury. His answers were all great, but he was like a, I don’t know, 50-year-old, white property manager for Manhattan Beach who was willing to drive every day to Burbank, which I thought was like shocking. But yeah, former property manager now tech recruiter. And I thought, “Oh God.” But his answers were so good. And he was the foreperson and he was amazing.
Harry Plotkin (51:49):
Yeah. See, I never lose sleep about those types of people. I’m like a NBA player. Who’s like over 10 shooting threes and I’m still shooting… I mean, I’m not worried about if there’s somebody who seems like a bad profile or somebody that the lawyer I’m working with is like, “That person just really makes me nervous.” And I’m like, “I love that their answers, we’re going with them.” I don’t worry at all. The answers that they give are so much more important than what they look like at the surface. And so don’t be afraid to keep somebody who fits a engineer or CFO, or landlord or whatever, or property manager. If they give great answers that they’re like empathetic and have high standards and are very critical of corporations or defendants or whatever it is, then go for it. Keep them. And don’t be worried about it.
Claire Plotkin (52:36):
Yeah. [inaudible 00:52:36] Sorry, go ahead.
Bernard Alexander (52:39):
I was going to say you don’t know how many times the HR person, nice African American woman, she’s sitting there, she’s looking at you and she’s smiling and she’s happy to see you there. And then you find out she used to be an HR manager and there’s virtually nothing you can say, that’s going to convince her that the HR department did anything wrong. Oh yeah that investigation was just fine. They only spoke to a few people, but how many people would you have to speak to in order to get… So you cannot judge people by their race or their job or that, you really got to get them to hear them speak, hear them say something, because that’s when you find out who they really are. Right.
Claire Plotkin (53:16):
Bernard, what you say is an excellent point. Because I did tell you, I don’t like smirking, but I do think that a lot of lawyers get really false positives by smiling. Just because a juror is laughing at your jokes in voir dire. And that’s why, I mean, I know a lot of lawyers love to just be really personable in voir dire, but it’s not enough. Okay. Like you’re hearing this from me now being personable in voir dire is not enough. They can laugh at your jokes and still defense you. Okay. [inaudible 00:53:48] No, it’s not actually there’s so many. I think Bob totally knows. Bob’s very aware that there are bad jurors out there, but a lot of lawyers think that’s all they need is a shtick. And it’s not enough.
Brandon Simon (54:01):
I have to unfortunately call it a day. But before I break, I mean, initially this was going to be a post COVID juror, but I’m very glad it kind of turned into just kind of a broad scope of this is tactics and everything. It’s great. This was a podcast where I’m usually prodding people and asking them questions and like you guys just kind of talked and did your thing and it was great. I prefer it to be that way. So it was awesome. It was really informative. And I hope our viewers kind of will take a listen and take the time to listen to all of it. Because it was really great.
Brandon Simon (54:34):
So before we break, I mean, I know all of you are still in the courtroom and still trying cases. COVID’s still going to be around probably through this year and there’s still going to be some masks and rolling restrictions. Where do you see our juror pool being in the next year or so? Are things going to go back to how they used to be? Are people going to go back to being grumpy and forget that COVID ever happened, and start taking advantage of all the stuff that they didn’t take advantage of. So what do you see trends and how are people going to be reacting once this thing is over, if it’s ever over.
Claire Plotkin (55:19):
I mean, I think there’s a certain demographic that is going to be better. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’ve been really saddened to see a bunch of moms leave jury duty because of having to watch their kids at home or teachers. I’ve lost a lot of teachers because they have not been in their classroom and they feel for their kids. And I like teachers often. So I’d be happy to see those people be willing to serve again. So I mean, I would like for that to get better, I think it will.
Jason Sanchez (55:49):
Yeah. I couldn’t agree with you more, especially moms and parents. I mean, that was a hard thing about the case against the school because we wanted parents that are sending their kids to school to want to be there. And to want to protect our client, but they couldn’t be there because they had their own kids at home that they were worried about and that they needed to take care of. So I agree with you. I hope that demographic comes back.
Bernard Alexander (56:20):
Well, I think jurors are more thoughtful right now and that is the key. And I hope the thoughtfulness does not go away. I think part of the polarization that Black Lives Matters, the people being at home, all those things were kind of a good mix to get people to be more thoughtful and willing to speak up and say something. So when they’ve gotten into the courtroom, they’ve been willing to speak up, take a stand. That’s the impression that I’ve gotten. And I’m hoping that that part of people won’t go away.
Harry Plotkin (56:52):
Claire Plotkin (56:52):
More thoughtful and more informed don’t you think? Yeah.
Harry Plotkin (56:58):
Yeah. And I think I would be more concerned if I thought that corporations and defendants and defense lawyers learn something from what’s going on right now and we’re more responsible, and then that caused the tide to turn. But I’m not going to bet on that. I think that people have had their eyes opened and I don’t think that defendants and defense lawyers and corporations are going to be able to change the tide and get people to trust in them anytime soon. But for the time being, for the next couple years, I think let’s get a lot of huge verdicts and at least make it worth our while before jurors start realizing, “Gosh, there’s a lot of big verdicts out there.”
Brandon Simon (57:33):
They try to change the law and try to hamper what we can do. And try to cap our fees and try to make access to good attorneys, more difficult. So instead of adapting with the times, they’re just going to try to, “You know what? We’ll change the playing field a little bit.” That’s interesting.
Harry Plotkin (57:51):
Yeah. It seems like they’re just doubling down a little bit, that’s fine. But I mean, I was just like focus grouping a case last weekend in a rural part of Missouri. And you’d think like, “Oh, maybe some people will listen.” Or like, “These guys are just LA lawyers and liberal LA.” And of course those jurors are all anti-corporation. I mean, those jurors out there were hating on the company just as much. And they were complaining about like this company is same thing Tesla did in that case. They were like, “This company set up all these layers to distance themselves from liability. And that’s a bunch of bullshit.” I mean, and this is a company that hired an independent contractor and claimed that,”Oh, we…” Distance themself. So I think it’s happening everywhere. So it’s not just an LA thing so.
Brandon Simon (58:34):
One minute away from an hour. So this is officially the longest podcast we’ve ever done. Congratulations. And it wasn’t boring. Usually it gets past 50 minutes. I’m like, “All right, no, we’ve got to wrap it up.” But that was… We kept it interesting the whole time and we could have gone another hour, honestly. That was awesome. So thank you guys so much for coming and keep going out and getting, getting jury verdicts and kicking juries and kicking ass. So thank you so much for joining the podcast and yeah. Thank you so much.
Jason Sanchez (59:07):
Just a quick question for Harry what’s beyond Armageddon verdicts?
Harry Plotkin (59:11):
Oh, that’s a good question. What are they going to call the billion ones? I mean, yeah. What’s…
Bernard Alexander (59:17):
I’ve got to have hope. I don’t want to think that I peaked too soon.
Harry Plotkin (59:21):
Right. Yeah, it’s like… Well, Armageddon already is the end of the world. I mean, afterlife verdicts? I have no idea what that means. [inaudible 00:59:25] business.
Brandon Simon (59:31):
Harry Plotkin (59:33):
How to get higher than Armageddon.
Brandon Simon (59:34):
Thank you guys so much. I appreciate it.