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View Diary: What Is The Supreme Court Doing Deciding How Much Is Too Much for Punitive Damages? (22 comments)

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  •  Yes there is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    penguins4peace, SassyFrass

    And that way is called voting.

    People are more than capable of deciding "good" and "bad."  So let tehm do it.  Letting judges do it simply invites chaos and intellectual dishonesty.

    The punitive damages issue is a case in point.  Many, I am sure, think that limiting punitive damages is bad, because it prevents us from expressing our outrage at corporations.  Others, I am sure, think limits are good because it prevents "jackpot justice" and potentially keeps consumer prices down in the long run (thus having a positive impact on the economy).  I think the weighing should be done by the people, and not by judges.

    •  What is jackpot justice? (0+ / 0-)

      Can you explain what that is?


      •  Jackpot justice means that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        penguins4peace, SassyFrass

        we have 2 identical or very similar cases and happen to try them in 2 different counties.

        One county (for a number of reasons) happens to be more favorable to the plaintiffs.

        So at the end of two (identical) cases, one plaintiff ends up with $100M verdict and another with $100K verdict.  That isn't "justice," it's a lottery.

        •  Yes, but imagine for a moment (0+ / 0-)

          a criminal defendant who is charged with a murder that (e.g., committed in a moving vehicle) crosses county lines.  Do you not think the prosecutors would choose to proceed in the county with jurors more likely to convict?  And perhaps impose the death penalty?  If this kind of "jackpot justice" is acceptable when dealing with human life, why is it not acceptable with corporations?

          It is the folly of youth to think they can change the world; it is the folly of old age not to try. -- Winston Churchill

          by penguins4peace on Wed Oct 25, 2006 at 10:20:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That kind of a desparity (0+ / 0-)

            was meant to be addressed by the sentencing guidelines.  (At least on the federal level, and in some states).  That way, similar crimes receive similar punishments.

            As for the death penalty, that too is a result of SCOTUS's "creativity."  It used to be that death penalty was mandatory for certain crimes.  SCOTUS said that that is unconstitutional.  So they created the unbounded prosecutorial discretion in these matters.  (Again, that does not mean that I endorse mandatory death penalty as a policy matter, but the blame for the disorder in the system should be laid at SCOTUS's door).

        •  Well let's go further (0+ / 0-)

          What if it is true that jurors selected from one area are more likely to give a verdict or an award amount, doesn’t this simply mean you are being judged by a jury of your peers. The question becomes how are your peers defined, and what venue are you in/ can you get transferred.

          That's a debate about the rules of transfer, not really about juries.

          In any event, ignoring all that I just said above, the solution can't mean eliminating punitive damages.

          Punitive damages are actually very rarely rewarded in cases that go to trial, and few cases ever even go to trial.

          •  Please understand, that I am not (0+ / 0-)

            arguing for the elimination of punitives.

            I oppose these types of decisions by the federal courts constitutionalizing something that was never meant to be addressed by the Constitution.  

            If people want to limit punitives as an exercise of their policy-making powers, let them.  But don't tell me that there is some constitutional prohibition on large punitive awards.

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