Why do people sue?

  Photo:  Before the speech (they were too polite to leave in the middle of it).

Photo:  Before the speech (they were too polite to leave in the middle of it).

Am in Louisville, Kentucky preparing to give a speech at their annual convention.  Two people have randomly greeted me in passing and said "you have a hard act to follow - all the speakers have been great."   Should have known this would be prophetic.

Do not like to give recycled speeches. Do not like to memorize anything.  Need to FEEL in order for the words to flow well.   Lately have been interested in exploring how to reach jurors regardless of their political or religious leanings.  Accessing shared core human values.  So the topic is a bit obtuse.  Particularly where here, am not teaching how to do something in particular - like give an opening or closing statement.

Cristina has come along on the trip.  She is one of the reasons am so interested in this topic.  Her political beliefs are the opposite of mine. Yet love her to pieces and we rub along just fine.  Ask her what is the number one question you would want to know as a juror.  She answers:  why do people sue.  Why indeed.

This is how the speech starts.  Ask the audience to give non-lawyer/non-legal answers to the question: why do people sue.

Several attorneys valiantly try to answer in regular human being terms.  But can't.

  • Because our system of justice has determined that ...  No. That is legal.
  • To stand up for their rights...No. That is legal
  • It is a legitimate way to obtain revenge and pay back... Better.  But still legal.

The audience looks expectantly at me for the answer.  Surely I have it.  But no.  Don't give them the answer because this is an obtuse subject.  Plus - don't know the answer.

Continue through the presentation.  Can feel that the overwhelming response is...uuuh.  Many are likely playing fantasy football on their computers, reading the news and checking email.

The problem is that am not giving "a magic bullet."  Don't have a solution that if applied will win all cases.

Travelled across country to give a speech that no one gets.  Blech.

Cristina sits through the speech (and confirms  later that fantasy football was indeed being played).  Ask her if anyone gave the right answer to the question - why do people sue.  She says no.   Ask her what the answer is.  She says:

Because they can.