Judge to lawyers: “I want this plaintiff to get money.”

by Ted Frank on July 5, 2007

“I’m not going to look at the evidence submitted to me. I want this plaintiff to get money. Tell each of your clients to pay up and make a contribution if they want to get out of this lawsuit.”—unnamed Buffalo Supreme Court judge, according to Brendan P. Cunningham op-ed in the June 22 Buffalo News.

{ 6 comments }

1 Anonymous Attorney 07.05.07 at 4:41 pm

I can’t recall hearing a judge put it that explicitly, but it’s not exaggerating to say that there are plenty of judges who FEEL that way and are savvy enough not to say so. But their rulings speak for them. In some jurisdictions, judges are former personal injury lawyers, so they think in terms of the “the third” as much as the plaintiff attorney before them, and you suspect they (even unconciously) want to make sure that a “brother” plaintiff’s attorney makes his money. As in, yes, this case is crap, but my man here has to make a living somehow, and not all cases are big ones. So that’s another element – even if the judge doesn’t care about the plaintiff, he might care about the plaintiff’s LAWYER. He knows the defense attorney isn’t working on contingency.

And with a liberal mentality that sees business and insurance as the perpetual bad guy and the innocent plaintiff as the default good guy, I doubt these judges lose much sleep. Try reading some tort law decisions of courts in West Virginia on this point.

Proof is hard to come by, but the gut tells you “the fix is in.”

2 Walter E. Wallis 07.05.07 at 5:07 pm

Perhaps there needs to be an extralegal avenue to approach such actions.

3 nevins 07.05.07 at 6:56 pm

At least one judge is willing to tell it straight.

4 Justin 07.05.07 at 9:35 pm

It’s easy to prooftext anecdotes and judgements from the courtroom, but legal reporting is usually as bad as mainstream journalism (often worse). I’ve learned to turn off my outrage meter when reading things like this, because if I bother to look into it, the situation is usually lot different than the snippet suggests. I may end up agreeing with the snipper, but rarely for the reasons presented so briefly.

5 Ron Coleman 07.06.07 at 1:41 pm

Anonymous Attorney, you’re half right. I think that these former PI attorneys on the bench are indeed plaintiff friendly, but not for the sake of protecting lawyers’ fees. Quite to the contrary, I think they are, from their own experience, somewhat skeptical about them. On the other hand, plaintiffs’ lawyers are — believe it or not — usually pro-plaintiff because they see things from the injured person’s point of view, having done so in their career.

That is no justification for this statement by the judge, if the report is true.

6 John Rohan 07.07.07 at 4:18 am

Why doesn’t he name the judge who said that? Especially if this is a judge that was voted into office, then people have a right to know who he is.

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