Trial lawyer’s macaca moment?

by David Nieporent on February 28, 2007

Michael Kinsley famously defined a “gaffe” as when a politician accidentally tells the truth. If so, plaintiff’s lawyer Anthony Buzbee committed an awfully big gaffe last year (caught on tape!), as Peter Lattman explains in the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog (See also W$J). It’s an open secret that trial lawyers venue shop for the best possible jurisdiction to file a lawsuit, but they rarely describe it openly, particularly in stark racial terms:

“That venue probably adds about seventy-five percent to the value of the case,” he said. “You’ve got an injured Hispanic client, you’ve got a completely Hispanic jury, and you’ve got an Hispanic judge. All right. That’s how it is.”

In other parts of Texas, Buzbee went on, a plaintiff may have the burden of showing “here’s what the company did wrong, all right? But when you’re in Starr County, traditionally, you need to just show that the guy was working, and he was hurt. And that’s the hurdle: Just prove that he wasn’t hurt at Wal-Mart, buying something on his off time, and traditionally, you win those cases.”

I guess tort reformers won’t get any debate from Buzbee when they describe places like Starr County as judicial hellholes (PDF).

Buzbee’s a trial lawyer, not a politician, so his reaction is entirely predictable: as per the Galveston County Daily News (and press release from Buzbee’s lawyers), Buzbee is suing the people who ran the seminar and those who allegedly taped him, claiming that he agreed to give his talk on the condition that it not be recorded, and further claiming that circulating the tape was done to “damage his career.” It seems to me that “The truth will damage my career” is perhaps not the smartest p.r. strategy, but I guess we’ll see how his suit goes.

{ 3 comments }

1 David Wilson 02.28.07 at 5:23 pm

A defense attorney is watched like a hawk for exclusion of minorities from the jury and will be faced with a ‘Batson’ challenge if the plaintiff lawyer suspects a racial motive. But if the plaintiff lawyer has his own racial motive, well, I guess that’s OK — even to the point of ensuring that the entire jury pool is composed of the racial or ethnic group he knows will bring it home for him.

2 wavemaker 02.28.07 at 10:25 pm

I like this sentence in the press release:

“The defendants have taken advantage of Mr. Buzbee’s honesty and good will. Their sneaky behavior should not be tolerated.”

This is one of those “lips are moving” moments.

3 Griffin3 03.01.07 at 9:24 am

Hrmm. Someone needs to crunch the video down to a reasonable size, and post it to youtube, et. al. Because once it’s on the Internet, it never really goes away …

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