Why Attorneys Don’t Want Nurses on Their Juries

I’ve sat on many jury panels for voir dire, but have never been selected for the final jury. What can I say? I’m a nurse, attorney, teacher and mentor for Certified Legal Nurse Consultants. What do you think the odds of me being selected on the jury will be? After all, I’m an attorney’s worst nightmare, although I believe I’d be the perfect juror for any injury case.

In general, injury attorneys don’t want nurses on their jury – period, end of statement. Why? First, a nurse would quickly sift through the smoke and mirrors and get to the heart of the issues. The jurors would view you as their leader who is guiding them through the medical maze. Attorneys don’t want a jury of one and that’s what the jury would become.

Second, plaintiff attorneys believe RNs will not award significant damages because you are immune to pain. Before you disagree and go all bleeding-heart on me, think about how you react when your spouse or significant other is sick. Are you the sympathetic Florence Nightingale sweeping in to provide a level of care unheralded in modern healthcare history? OR do you look at them with a mischievous grin and say, “Your temp is only 101&#176. You’re not on a ventilator. I don’t see an NG tube or Foley catheter so buck up sweetie and get back to your honey-do list!

In the law there are always exceptions and the rare nurse will make it to a jury in a medical-related case. The odds are, however, like me you’ll never make it past voir dire. That’s unfortunate. If every jury had an RN on it the justice system would sort itself out quickly and fairly, for sure.

I’m Just Sayin’

P.S. Comment and share your jury selection experiences.

6 replies
  1. Penny Watkins
    Penny Watkins says:

    Hi Vickie,
    I WAS picked for a jury! I was shocked and tried as I may – I couldn’t get off. I was selected by both plaintiff and defense. It was a criminal case and we deliberated for 3 days. It was one of the best learning experiences I could of had. I would highly encourage CLNC® consultants to get on a jury and go through the process ~ it was invaluable!!
    Penny Watkins RN, BSN, PHN, CLNC
    Legal Nurse Consultants of So. Calif.

    Reply
  2. Steve Young
    Steve Young says:

    I pick juries. I pick juries many times each year having tried almost 200 civil jury trials. I love nurses! My mother was a nurse, my sister is a nurse, my daughter-in law is a nurse.
    On a jury I view nurses as my ally. They understand the medical records. They know the sour smell of BS when it wafts through the court. They can keep the other jurors focused during deliberations on the injuries to the plaintiff.
    Nurses on my juries? Give me all you can spare!!
    Steve

    Reply
  3. Michele DeStefano
    Michele DeStefano says:

    While I can understand your argument about injury and malpractice cases, my understanding is that nurses are considered wonderful jurors for criminal cases and most civil cases as well, because of a well-deserved reputation for ethics. There is a reason that the nursing profession has been identified as the most trusted and ethical by the American public for more than a decade. Moreover, our skill set plays well to the requirements of the job of jury member.

    Reply
    • Rosie Hughes, MSN, RN, CLNC
      Rosie Hughes, MSN, RN, CLNC says:

      Steve,
      It is refreshing to see you are here saying wonderful things about nurse relatives as jurors.
      I can imagine Vickie being a juror. I got a kick out of this post.
      I knew a nurse who was a juror and he really enjoyed it.

      Reply
  4. Merle Day
    Merle Day says:

    Quite some time ago, I was selected for a jury on a slip and fall case. I was surprised to be chosen – the plaintiff claimed that she had slipped in a large store, and as a result, needed brain surgery.

    I was somewhat dismayed at her medical records – did we need to know about her gall bladder surgery, or even more personal info? It was important to know that she had stopped taking her seizure meds a few months prior to the incident.

    We found that the store was not at fault, and we were all a bit saddened to know that she had turned down a settlement to go to trial. She owed a very large sum to the hospital.

    The trial lasted a total of 6 days – they made us come in on Saturday for closings and deliberation.

    I would gladly serve again!

    Reply
  5. Susan Sullivan RN, BSN, MICN, CLNC
    Susan Sullivan RN, BSN, MICN, CLNC says:

    I have actually served on several juries and all since I began nursing school or became a nurse. I find it funny really. As soon as they know I’m a nurse, I’m stuck. One case was workers’ comp fraud related. We found her innocent of the initial charge, but guilty of the 6 other charges because we couldn’t say she hadn’t fallen in the first place because she had a little scrape on her head. The Rosa tapes showed an active woman who regularly carried around her grandchildren, wore high heel shoes and bent over without distress repeatedly while picking up trash off of the ground. People with back injuries sometimes do forget and do something they shouldn’t, but they don’t keep doing it. Once is usually enough to remind them of the pain and make them stop, or at least show discomfort if they must continue. I remember being very angry with her for putting me in the position of sending a mother and grandmother to jail! Foolish woman!

    Reply

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