Judicial Errors

Judicial Errors

Above: Chief Justice Taney: "Blacks are not People.." (Oops.)

Judges Err Regularly. So Litigation Is Always Risky, No Matter Your Facts.

Many believe that judges are wise and hard working, approaching their role with special care and concern for the law and the facts. In many cases this is true. But not always. Judges can be ignorant, lazy, or confused, tired, or even jaundiced and prone to pre-judgment. They are human and fallible.

Here's a famous example. The Supreme Court held that locking the Japanese-descended American citizens in labor camps based on their ancestry was constitutional during World War Two. Here's an even more infamous example, its called the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford, where Chief Justice Taney ruled that black slaves were not people within the meaning of the Constitution...

The language of the Declaration of Independence...proceeds to say: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among them is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..." The general words above quoted would seem to embrace the whole human family... But it is too clear for dispute that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration... [T]here are two clauses in the Constitution which point directly and specifically to the negro race as a separate class of persons, and show clearly that they were not regarded as a portion of the people or citizens of the Government then formed.

CONCLUSION: JUDGES SOMETIMES MAKE BAD DECISIONS

Judges Can Make Mistakes in Your Business Matters.

Do not assume that your judge will understand business or be familiar with how entrepreneurs or the business world functions. Many have never owned companies, or operated business, or managed a for-profit organization of any kind. Most have never had to handle capital or deploy it with an eye to profit. Some appear to not inherently believe in the profit motive or the sanctity of contracts or property. Can't believe us? Here are a few home grown examples of our own where judges made quick or poor decisions, causing clients untold grief and ruining their finances.

You Were Silent, So You Must Be Wrong

We were defending a woman who claimed she had no settlement agreement with an architect. The architect wanted his settlement money and sued to enforce the supposed contract. At trial, the architect's lawyer went first, put his architect up on the stand and asked "Now, You formed a contract with this lady here, right?" Expecting him to say "Yes." Well, the architect stunned everyone by saying, "No. We didn't have any kind of agreement. We were just negotiating things." Heck, he had just spoken our whole defense right into the record. Why ruin a good thing? Their only witness had just taken OUR side, saying THERE WAS NO CONTRACT. Then the Judge asked if we wanted to put our client on the stand. Since all the evidence on record already supported us, we said, No need, we rest. Then we got the decision: The court determined that a agreement had been formed. (WHAT?!?) The reason they gave was that since our client did not take the stand, it could only have meant that she would have given testimony damaging to her own defense, so her silence should be construed as a confession that a contract had been formed. This may seem impossible, but it truly happened. A judge ignored virtually all of the testimony on record and ruled solely based upon someone's silence. You may have heard that it is unconstitutional to draw a negative inference from someone's silence. Well, it happened here. The moral of the story is that judges make mistakes.

What This Means For You

This means you must factor into litigation the chance that the judge (or jury) will not see things your way, even if your facts are extremely clear and you are clearly in the right. Even with perfect facts and perfect legal work, judges can still make mistakes. They can rely too much on their clerks, who can in turn have insufficient experience or time to devote to your matter, or any number of other things. This is not to say they usually make mistakes, only that you must consider that it is a distinct possibility. This increases the importance of avoiding lawsuits whenever possible and considering settlement offers very seriously, even if the amount is less than you ideally would like.

Call a Denver business lawyer at The Vasilco Law Group, P.C. today for your free telephone consultation.