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On the Unpredictable Nature of Jury Trials

Having undergone several jury trials in my legal career now, I want to impart some wisdom. And that is that jury trials are wildly unpredictable! While it’s certainly true that you need to believe a case is “good enough,” the reality is that you just don’t know what’s going to happen after the jury has been instructed and they go behind the courtroom to deliberate.

Recently, I lost a jury trial in which I genuinely felt that my clients and I had put on far superior evidence and had a better case. We had pictures to demonstrate damages and positions while the other side did not. We had emails and text messages that supported our positions while the other side did not. And we even put on strong evidence that the other side’s primary witness had lied under oath. Even my client thought we had put on a superior case.

At the end, none of it mattered. The jury still went against us, and although I have several theories in mind as to why, I won’t drag those out here. Rather, my purpose in writing this post is to impart some wisdom to you--our potential or actual client--who is considering or facing litigation, including a jury trial, as a means to resolve your legal problems.

It’s very important for you to understand how unpredictable jury trials can be, because investing your time and money into a jury trial will most likely be one of the most all-consuming experiences you will undergo in your lifetime. If you’re paying attorney fees by the hour, it will probably also be one of the most expensive endeavors you undergo, as well.

Given the enormity of jury trial though, it’s no wonder that some 95% + of cases settle before getting to a jury trial. The reason you need to know about the unpredictability and the enormity of jury trials is because you need to account for this when the opportunity to settle your case comes up, whether at mediation or other negotiations.

As much as the attorneys may live (and get paid handsomely) to fight the good fight of a trial, for the litigants it’s usually one of the most intense and dreadful experiences of their lifetime. It’s a drain on your money, resources, time, and yes even your mental health. Too often, I see litigants fail to adequately account for these realities when they pass up on the opportunity to compromise and settle the case.

But make no mistake: In some cases, a trial is most definitely warranted, and moreover getting a favorable settlement rests in large part upon your demonstration of willingness and ability to go to trial. Here at Asheville Legal, our civil litigation attorneys are trained and experienced at determining when a trial is the proper recourse as opposed to settlement. Call us for a case evaluation today.


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