My first jury trial was actually going very well. I had a good trial judge, Sue Birch. It was in High Point, and the jury pool was decent. Of course, the case was not very good, your first case shouldn't be. An eighteen-year old girl was rear-ended by a car near the Coliseum in Greensboro. The property damage was very light, about $400. She treated with a chiropractor, Dean Meylor, who did a great job testifying. Everything was going well until cross of the plaintiff. Opposing counsel Gary Sue had a suspicious looking smile all day long. I really didn't know him well, so I just thought that was normal for him. However, I quickly started to figure out that there was more to it.
First, I found out on cross that Wanda was distant relative of the defendant. Interesting detail, and I am not sure why she never told me about that part before trial. It was an admitted liability case, so I had not taken his deposition. (Lesson learned) I had also inherited the case from another attorney. When the jury heard that they were related, it just seemed weird. I started to wonder.
Second, Gary asks the question, "were you involved in any other car wrecks the year of the wreck?" This question is never good. Alarm bells are going off, but there is really nothing that I can do. Wanda says, "no". Gary then approaches with medical records and asks is Wanda X, is your address X, are you eighteen years old, is your birthdate... You get the picture. Then, he shows her the records and asks, "were you not in a wreck two months before this one and went to the emergency room for a neck sprain?" (Same injury in this case) She responds, "oh yeah, I forgot". Everyone in the courtroom was angry, especially me. Actually, I was more embarrassed than anything.
I talked to her after the break, and she said that she forgot. I asked Gary where he got the records, and he said that Wanda filed a claim with Allstate for her injuries for that prior wreck. (This wreck was with Allstate also) I almost dismissed the case, but I decided that all there was left to do was deliver closing. So, I closed, and the jury came back with the proper verdict of $0. Oh well, my dreams of grandeur at a win for my first trial was shot. However, I was happy with the result.