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Defense attorney's misconduct is not adequate grounds for new trial

The Court of Appeals this week reversed a Barry County Circuit judge and denied a new trial to a woman who claimed she sufferred injury at the hands of a JC Penney Co. hairdresser.   A jury entered verdict against the woman after her trial, but the presiding judge ordered a new trial, citing several instances of misconduct by the Defendant's attorney.  He had apparently interjected into the trial irrelevant and misleading suggestions of prior lawsuits by and against her, inaccurately suggested a prior lawsuit was dismissed on its merits, suggested a bankruptcy filing, and impeached her credibility based on her failure to acknowledge that she  was a paralegal who had once attended a Paralegal Institute in Georgia.

The appellate panel, including the insurers' advocate, Richard Bandstra, reversed the opinion of the judge who supervised the trial, concluding that the several errors of the defense attorney were harmless and cured by the judge's instructions. That appellate decision certainly won't discourage defense attorneys from wrongfully interjecting prejudicial and irrelevant matters into civil trials:  it tells insurance attorneys, "hey, if someone is bold enough to seek legal redress and you don't have a solid defense, just attack, attack, attack...throw up enough garbage and something may stick."

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262