Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Disputed People's Court Episode that You Almost Didn't See

Unsuccessful People's Court plaintiff Claudia Evart went to New York Supreme Court to try to stop this episode of the popular television show from making it to air.  A New York judge declined to stop the broadcast of the small claims court arbitration, however, and it was shown last Friday (we will replace the video below with a more complete and/or better quality version as soon as it becomes available).

If you watched the trial, which concerned a dispute over a custom-made Murphy bed, in real time on Friday or later on your DVR, it does seem like the defendant made out a strong case that he tried to accommodate the customer.

The problem apparently occurred when Evart was prevented from fully testifying that a salesperson said the bed was sold rather than ruined in Hurricane-Irene-related flooding as the defendant maintained.

Judge Marilyn Milian, however, banged her gavel before Evart could offer evidence, if any, of that conversation.

The plaintiff may well have lost the trial anyway, but it would have only taken an additional minute or two more to give the plaintiff a chance to provide corroboration, so what was the rush?

Judge Milian's rejoinders that the plaintiff "always gets what she wants" (how would she know this?) and that plaintiff was "dead" (rather than "out of gas," or "done," etc, as the she usually says) also seem over the top.

The Myth of Moral Justice contends in part that the court system fails to take into consideration the emotional component of a lawsuit. As we wrote in a previous blog posting that reviewed the book, "the litigants simply never receive an opportunity to vent in a public setting. Since many if not all lawsuits contain a strong emotional component, even the winner doesn't 'believe the case is all over and the issues are all settled'...it is fair to say that many litigants often find themselves figuratively (or sometimes literally) gaveled out of order before they get a full chance to express themselves."