Your Right to a Civil Jury Trial – It’s Worth Fighting For!
News of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis and the mine failures in Utah are just the most recent reminders that issues of safety and accountability affect us all. Corporations with a profit motive have often and consistently acted like those profits were more important than the lives of the people we love. This has played itself out in an ominous fashion over the past 10 years as we’ve seen a coordinated effort by corporate interests to limit, or in some cases eliminate, your individual right to a jury trial. During that time those same corporations have made no effort to limit their own access to the courts.
Recently we’ve also seen the case of Melenna Del Valle who was killed in the interstate 90 tunnel collapse in Boston. In that matter the National Transportation Safety Board has just reported that the failure related to the design and materials utilized in the construction. The finding has brought forth a criminal indictment of at least one firm involved in the project. Unfortunately the criminal statute provides for only a $1,000 dollar penalty. I think most would agree that this is insufficient to inspire accountability or a change of heart on the part of a major corporation.
So what can we do? We can start talking about the issue. Our system is leadership with our consent, right? Have we really given our representatives the OK sign to limit our own individual rights. My sense is that we have been very busy with our lives and with only so much time in the day and so many well crafted marketing campaigns pressing the corporate agenda, we just have not woken up to the reality of what’s happening. In Florida for example if you are 26 years old and your mom is killed due to medical negligence you may not bring that issue to a jury. The hospital involved could be clearly guilty of gross negligence but you will have no recourse. This was a statute voted for by your representatives. Are you OK with that? We should understand the restrictions being placed on individual citizens access to the courts at all government levels. If we the people want these rights restored and protected then that is exactly what will happen.
Your right to access the court only means the right to bring the issue and present evidence. You have no right to prevail in the dispute. But that access gives you power to guard your liberty and collectively the liberty and safety of us all. I think we should be concerned that the stature of the individual American citizen, so eloquently described by Jefferson (as endowed with inalienable rights) and purchased with so much of our fathers blood, is being….well…..alienated. I think we should be even more alarmed that we have either been unaware of what’s being lost or have been convinced by corporate interests that their rights should be greater than our own.