Twelve strangers, or six if it is a civil trial, sit in judgment and decide your fate. No training is necessary, no basic understanding of law or justice is required. Is this the best system of justice that we can come up with?
Many people wonder what happens when you draw a short tempered or ill-informed judge when your case is finally called for trial. First, my experience is that the New Jersey judiciary is of very high caliber. Most, if not all, are qualified individuals, who try very hard to get it right. Are there exceptions? Yes, as in any profession. There are judges who do not bother to read all the briefs, who make quick or wrong decisions, or who just lack experience in a particular area of the law.
When a judge empanels a jury, the question of whether the juror can be fair and impartial is always asked. Some people reply honestly that they can or cannot render a fair and true verdict. Others will state that they cannot be fair to get out of what our society considers to be a burden to be avoided. Still others will lie and promise to be fair, when they have a hidden agenda to punish what they consider to be a wrong.
The first step for any lawyer, before they set foot in a courtroom is to recognize that juror bias exists. It is real and it is palpable, but the reality of it is something that the justice system and the judge pay attention to, but only in the sense that the most egregious examples are dealt with.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 600 car accident fatalities occur every year in New Jersey. Many of these fatalities result from driving under the influence, drowsy driving, and distracted driving. Distracted driving can mean anything from talking on a cell phone to texting or simply not paying attention. Cell phone usage has made the problem worse in New Jersey. In addition to this high number of fatalities, NJ sees more than 250,000 accidents per year, according to the NJ Department of Transportation.
For as much as animal lovers have profoundly influenced a growing acceptance of dogs in society, it equally increases the number of irresponsible and careless pet-owners out in the world. Anyone who owns a dog knows that it is up to the owner to maintain responsibility for their pet's actions. There are no bad dogs, just bad owners. Unfortunately, those owners have frequently disregarded the rights and safety of others. They have to display control of the animal at all times, and if it is out in a public area, it is the law it MUST be on a leash. Certain breeds, depending on the dog itself, may even need to be muzzled. This isn't done out of undue caution, but a legitimate need to protect the dog and those around it from any unnecessary incidents.
What is justice? Justice can mean many things to many people. Justice can be vengeance, retribution, or punishment. Justice can be making someone whole who has been injured. We are interested in justice, trying to allow people who have been injured back a portion of their lives. We cannot transform that person back to where things were before an accident happened, but we can help restore dignity and provide what the law allows. At the Law Offices of John Morelli, we vow to seek a full measure of justice for our clients.
What does the law allow when a person is injured? Our law has developed over hundreds of years into a system which allows people who have been injured to go into court and to receive "damages" for their bodily injuries. This is the only way that we can attempt to cure some of the wrongs that have been inflicted on people who have involved in serious accidents. Unfortunately, history has shown us that this is the only way to re-dress some wrongs. While it is not perfect, it is the best system that exists in the world. Our firm vows to seek out all aspects of an injured person's life and to get the highest and best recovery.
In New Jersey, the court system is divided into two types of courts, state courts and federal courts. Each state has the authority to create the different courts under its own system. New Jersey Courts are made up of three levels of courts: the Superior Court (Law & Chancery), the Superior Court Appellate Division, and the Supreme Court. The Superior Court hears trials and the Superior Court Appellate Division is the first level of appeal. The final level of appeal is the New Jersey Supreme Court. There are 7 Justices who sit on the New Jersey Supreme Court.
In order to sustain a claim alleging outrage, or the intentional infliction of emotional distress, a plaintiff must first prove that the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly. Buckley v. Trenton Saving Fund Soc'y, 111 N.J. 355, 366, 544 A.2d 857 (1988). A defendant acts recklessly when he or she acts in deliberate disregard of a high degree of probability that emotional distress will follow. Ibid. Second, the defendant's conduct must be extreme or outrageous, meaning it must "go beyond all possible bounds of decency[.]" Ibid. Third, the defendant's actions must have been the proximate cause of the plaintiff's emotional distress. Ibid. Fourth, the emotional distress suffered must be "so severe that no reasonable man could be expected to endure it." Ibid. Physical injury need not be proven; it is sufficient if the plaintiff suffers severe emotional distress. Id. at 367, 544 A.2d 857.