During the middle of a trial involving a medical malpractice case, when the judge takes a break, does he also announce that commercials and music will be played for the people in the courtroom in the meantime?
Is there a halftime show that goes on during lunch that the jurors and court observers can watch?
The answer is no and no.
Unlike a football game that is televised on TV, a civil trial has no commercial breaks.
There is no halftime show.
This is not entertainment.
This is real life.
This is real drama.
This is real.
A jury has the ability to hold someone legally responsible for someone else's injuries or untimely death.
The jury has the ability to find that someone who is careless is now legally obligated to compensate that person or the surviving family for all of the harms, losses and damages they now incurred.
This idea for commercial breaks and a halftime show at trial came to me as I was watching football one Sunday afternoon.
During the football game, at every time out, the TV station went to a commercial break.
At halftime, there was an entertaining show with happy cheerleaders bouncing around.
Anytime there was a new play, the TV station went to another commercial break.
Why did they do that?
To generate revenue.
The TV stations rely on sponsors who advertise.
They pay significant amounts of money to get their advertisements in front of viewers who happily sit for hours watching the football game.
In a civil trial in New York, you should know that trials are not televised.
There are no sponsors.
There is no advertising that goes on during a civil trial.
This is serious business.
An injured victim or an injured patient who believes that they suffered significant injury as a result of someone else's carelessness has a right to bring a lawsuit in order to obtain compensation for their injuries.
You should know that an injured victim does not have to prove with 100% certainty that the person who caused them harm was careless. Nor do they have to show with 75% certainty.
Instead, they only have to show that they are only slightly more likely right that wrong that what they are claiming is true.
Legally, that is known as the preponderance of evidence.
That is an entirely different standard than what is required in a criminal case.
In a criminal case you will hear the prosecutor has to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a much higher burden than is required in a civil lawsuit.
What if civil trials were done the same way a football game was televised?
Imagine that a civil trial was conducted the same way that a football games was televised.
Imagine having lawyers in the back of the courtroom doing color commentary about every question that is asked and every answer that is given.
"John, this question is an interesting one that takes us back in time. Remember when..."
"Andy, just look at the way this witness evaded that question...what a remarkable dodge. I wonder why he did that..."
Imagine commentators discussing the meaning and significance of various trial objections and the judge's rulings from the bench.
Imagine that every time there was legal argument between the attorneys and the judge, known as a sidebar discussion, the TV commentators would now give opinions about what the attorneys were talking about and the likely outcomes.
Imagine that when the judge tells the courtroom it's time for lunch, the court officer and the court clerk put on a halftime show to entertain the jury.
How amusing would that be?
Do I think this would ever occur here in New York?
The answer is no. I don't.
But it's a humorous look at what could happen if civil trials were held the same way that football games are televised.
Are civil trials in New York ever televised?
A number of years ago there was an attempt to televise certain trials in New York. It was a test initiatiative.
There was much debate about the benefits and risks of televising trials live.
Needless to say, after the test program finished, the conclusion was that trials in New York would not be televised.
Do you think this is right?
Do you think there should be more transparency in the civil justice system in our trial level courts known as the Supreme Court of the state of New York?
Let me know what you think in the comments section below. I'd love to hear what you have to say.
To learn even more about how these cases work, I invite you watch the video below...