EXCERPTS FROM GERRY SPENCE ARGUMENT IN HUNTER v LEWIS MALPRACTICE CASE

In 1982 Gerry Spence tried a case in Provo Utah, Hunter v. Lewis. The transcript of his opening summation has examples of persuasive ideas worth reviewing. Here are a few of them:

“Now, in a little while the case of Joshua Hunter is going to be in your hands. And there’s something, however, that I want to say to you about that that’s important for you to understand; and that is: that each one of us are human beings, just like them, and each one of us have a limited but beautiful human power. But, as a jury together, there is a kind of mystical power that you have with the power of each of you combined together. When you get together you must somehow feel the strength of the mystical power that’s given to you, by the law, in the form of a jury. Maybe the average age of this jury is 40 years of age. There are eight of you who will make a decision in this case. 8×40 is 320 years of experience that this jury has.

Each one of you have your own special knowledge. Those of you who have labored with your hands know the beauty of being given the gift of labor and sweat. And those of you who have walked peacefully in the mountains know the beauty of the God-given gift of walking. And those of us who know the peace and joy in our souls and the gift of speech and know the preciousness there is to share ourselves with language with others, and those who have been in business with things in commodities and property, in cash, in valuables, know that the most valuable thing of all is just to be healthy, happy human beings.

Those of us who have tried to make the world better, because have tried to devote our lives to the betterment of man and to the glory of God know that here in this case is the great place of that work.Now, it’s not going to be a perfect justice, because the only perfect justice that could be given would be to give Don and Sheila back the baby who was perfect before was placed in the hands of this hospital. That would be perfect justice. It is beyond our ability.

I haven’t made your job easy. I have asked for $40 million dollars. People have said how can you can ask for that amount of money? ?Some have been outraged. But I’m not ashamed to ask for it. Justice supports every penny of it. But we have been given the law and the tools to do the best that man can to and although it’s not perfect I’m asking that it not be compromised in this case. We have been taught there isn’t going to be big justice for little people; that there’s big justice for big people. If we took one of the racehorses of Mr. Rockefeller which is worth $80 million and ran it down on the road, he would want $80 million for his racehorse. He’s a big man and he’s entitled to big justice he would say: “that was my horse and I’m entitled to every penny of it, and give me $80 million.” Now we have been taught that little people are entitled big justice.

Now I want you to know something. You are the only people who can deprive Joshua of his full justice now. That burden is going to be yours. That burden is going to be in that verdict. That burden, ladies and gentlemen, is in that special verdict form. This is his life. When you fill that in, you have the power to determine his life

About Paul Luvera

Plaintiff trial lawyer for 50 years. Past President of the Inner Circle of Advocates & Washington State Trial Lawyers Association. Member American Board of Trial Advocates, American College of Trial Lawyers, International Academy, International Society of Barristers, member of the National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame & speaker at Spence Trial College
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