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The jury is the law, when they are not afraid,
This review is from: The Verdict (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD)
It is one rare film on a court case that may make us believe in the justness of jury justice. Frank Galvin, played by Paul Newman, is an alcoholic, and not an anonymous one at all. He nearly was debarred for it. He has a case that has all characteristics of a lost case. It is against well considered doctors, even authorities in their field, working for a Catholic hospital and ruining the life of a pregnant poor woman by sheer negligence, and then trying to cover it up by making the admitting nurse in the delivery room perjure herself and falsify the admittance document. The point is that this nurse is covered by the other nurse in the operating room and the first nurse has been forced to resign from her position and even her profession, then move out of the state of Massachusetts to get another job. The trick in this court case is that the judge is hostile to Frank Galvin and yet somewhere in his mind he has some kind of sense of justice. He will emphasize the testimony of that fired nurse when accepting the objection of the defense counselor and having the testimony struck off the record. And the jury will of course have heard and will of course keep in mind that testimony and the defense will lose their case, and the doctors will be found guilty of negligence and Frank Galvin will win the case for the sister of the wasted patient and that sister's husband. We should rethink jury justice because there are too many cases where the jury is not just at all and then there are enormous numbers of appeals, and even some executions of innocent people. Some may say that jury justice is the least bad system, and we should consider that is not good enough. The appeal procedures should be reexamined and no irreversible sentence, like the death penalty, should be allowed of any crime at all. Better have a criminal rot in jail than an innocent person executed. All documents whatsoever have to be admissible in court, especially since if a testimony is refused in one court it can never be used again in any other court. Then we have to find procedures to verify and validate testimonies or documents, but they must not be crossed out, especially by one single judge on the basis of eventually one other anterior judge's decision. Jurisprudence is also fine and dandy but there too there should be some fair and just procedures to assess such elements and their validity in any posterior case. This film is a great film that shows all the short comings of jury justice even if the outcome is positive. It is rarely so, or it is too often the reverse.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID