April 01, 2013

From the Bench: Obituary: The American Trial Lawyer

Far fewer cases go to trial now. As a result, young lawyers lack experience.

Hon. Mark W. Bennett

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The American trial lawyer (ATL), who, in innumerable ways, enhanced the lives of so many Americans and made the United States a fairer, healthier, safer, more egalitarian, and just nation, passed away recently. Although a precise age is uncertain, ATL is believed to have been at least 371 years old at the time of death.

The cause of death is uncertain. A blue-ribbon panel of forensic coroners performed one of the most extensive autopsies in history. They were unable to determine the precise cause or time of death. However, they were unanimous in their conclusion that death was not sudden. In fact, ATL had been placed on the Endangered Species List a decade or so before death. The autopsy determined that ATL most likely died from a long-term, progressive illness that began more than 40 years ago and was exacerbated by a slow, debilitating virus related to multifocal leukoencephalopathy—more commonly known as Celotex-Anderson-Matsushita Syndrome—a disease of the central nervous system. The death certificate also lists the following probable causes of death: a strange autoimmune disease known as Iqbal & Twombly; a surge of “litigation industry” lymphoblastic cancer cells—replacing healthy trial-lawyer-skill cells; the vanishing civil jury trial—causing a massive drain of healthy red blood cells that were the lifeblood of ATL; a genetic mutation of the civil justice system that came to be known as “ADR”; the tragic inability of young offspring of ATL to obtain an essential growth hormone—trial experience; the inability of courts to implement reforms that would have reduced the enormous costs of getting cases to trial and enabled ATL to go off life support; a persistent metastasizing growth of the parasitic belief that trial judges should be “litigation managers” and that jury trials are a “failure of the system”; and the media, which, with the speed of an aggressive glioblastoma, spread inaccurate information about allegedly frivolous lawsuits and verdicts like the McDonald’s “hot coffee” case.

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