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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

You Bet, I'll Wager

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I know, I still have some time to decide what I want to do when I grow up... But I discovered an entirely new opportunity today and it has me pretty excited. Odds Maker! Someone to lay odds for use in betting. You know, 3 to 1, or 5 to 1, or 472 billion to 1. You may be thinking that this is a HUGE waste of not only all my legal talent but also all those student loans I'll have to repay. However, I think my legal talent will come in handy.

Turns out that we're betting on trials. Now, this is likely not news to some of you. Those of the wagering persuasion probably already know all about this. I didn't, though. And it took me by surprise, until I realized the income potential. Really good legal analysis is needed to lay those odds. Weighing the evidence, watching the pre-trial decisions, and figuring out what the likely outcome will be. Then you have to factor in the lawyers hair styles, wardrobe and foot wear. Plus jury stats. How many women? How many men? Republican or Democrat? Bass fishers?

The sheer volume of facts and inferences to be weighed and calculated is staggering. And I am uniquely qualified to do that job! To heck with criminal prosecution. Pshaw to contract law and civil litigation. I'm going to Vegas, baby!

If you've kept up with Girl Ipsa then you know that I once likened trials to boxing. (If not then I'll just say here "Hey, I once likened trials to boxing.") This new development is just par for that course. Only difference being that, generally, boxers take the ring voluntarily with the expectation that people will watch and wager and pray fervently for a specific outcome. If you are, say, Hector Camacho you will not be particularly wounded when a spectator screams "Kill him!!" from the crowd. (I am merely guessing what boxing spectators scream, as I have never been one. Perhaps they scream "Be careful!" or "Look out!" or "Good show, fellow!")

I am willing to bet that Scott Peterson isn't inspired to greater athletic efforts by his long odds. Sea Bisket he is not. And this really does beg the question;

Do we address this on voir dire?

I mean, as a member of the jury, how influenced will you be in your deliberations if you have a hundred bucks on "conviction"? Better yet, $5,000. on "mistrial". Right now a mistrial is 3 to 1. And that catch all "other outcome"? That's at 11 to 1. Presents a serious issue about the objective ability of the trier of fact that I don't think we've seen before.

There are settled rules as to what to do about a judge or an attorney having a financial interest in the outcome of the law suit. We can be fairly certain that the judge does not have money on this, if he did he would have to disclose that fact and recuse himself. (My favorite story in this regard is the judge who disclosed to the parties that he was wearing Lakers underwear at that very moment to show his potential bias.) And if it turns out that he did, he is subject to serious discipline including disbarment. Not so for jurors.

So, when selecting from that pool of veniremen will the attorneys ask them about online betting? Or will we just put it there on the juror questionnaire:
Do you, or anyone in your family, now wager, or have you, or anyone in your family, ever wagered, on the outcome of a trial? If so, how much did you get?**

** If it's not too much we'll call it de minimus and move on


Blogger Christopher Chopin said...

Juror Number Nine, tell me quick, what's the Vegas over/under on acquittal?

No idea.

Challenge for cause, your honor...

3:09 PM  

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