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Subject:  Re: Hot Coffee Date:  2/24/2013  8:38 AM
Author:  icono5 Number:  418451 of 506929

Good morning, all! I'm a progressive, yet I freely admit to finding the McDonald's coffee example rather extreme. Despite frequent pontificating on the internet (and elsewhere) to the contrary, progressives don't want to discourage personal responsibility.

I suppose I draw a somewhat different "lesson" from this story. To wit: as the OP notes, the coffee case became (manufactured and) outraged justification for pounding away about the ostensible need for broad tort reform. But denying individuals access to the courts based upon an anomalous example or two is highly irresponsible and misleading. Most juries, most of the time, reach reasonable conclusions. And when they don't, on occasion, that's a modest price (IMHO) to be paid for democratic governance.

The reference earlier in this thread to the O.J. verdict is also telling. In that case, the jury did not even get it "wrong"--not in a technical sense. I have no illusions about Simpson's innocence, but of course that's not the standard at issue. The police badly bungled the evidentiary trail and chain of custody, and thus prevented prosecutors from establishing "beyond a reasonable doubt." After the verdict, all of the cries of righteous indignation ignored that the jury system had functioned as it was supposed to. The systemic goal is not to reach verdicts that are popular with the general population; it's to enforce particular judicial standards as they apply to individual sets of circumstances.

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