Jury Duty-Part II — Wrongful Death-Medical Malpractice Case!! Maybe Biggest Trial in Cleveland County History!! Multi-Millions of $$$ at stake!!! Jury Selection Complete, Public Trial Starts Monday! Report by Robert A. Williams

I could not say anything about this particular case in my previous article because I was called for jury duty and had been selected in the initial round of jury selection on this particular case. We were all under Court Order not to talk about this particular case to anyone. All that ended Wednesday afternoon when I was dismissed from the jury in what is called a “preemptory challenge.” A preemptory challenge being a controversial legal process where either set of lawyers in the case can remove an individual juror without providing a reason. Although I had given both sides plenty of reason to remove me, depending on whether or not they were interested in a fair trial. More about that fair trial stuff later in this article.

The case was regarding the untimely death of Shelby business man Jim Teddy due to colon cancer. A cancer that was diagnosed about a year after Mr. Teddy had undergone a colonoscopic examination by a the Cleveland Gastro-Intestinal Medical Group that originally reported no cancerous growths or polyps were found and removed during the examination. My research indicates such cancers typically take about ten plus years to develop. The Teddy family believes that had the colonoscopic examination been performed properly and the proper treatment been performed in a timely manner, that Mr. Teddy would have survived and lived a normal life-span, but for the negligence of the medical group that performed the colonoscopic examination without finding the cancer at an early enough stage of development to have been successfully removed.

I must note at this point that I immediately became very interested in this particular case for very personal reasons. First, the case was estimated to last four weeks. When this was announced the entire jury pool let out with a sigh of disbelief. Many requested directly to the presiding judge to be exempted from the jury pool because of personal reasons on dealing with a full month being taken out of their life.. Most were denied. Even a soon to be father whose pregnant wife is already experiencing “contractions” and is beginning to dilate was denied leave from the jury pool. I did not request leave from the jury, but when my name was called as Juror Number 7, I began to have second thoughts. My previous article indicated clearly what I think about jury duty and I resigned myself to the idea that I might be tied up for the duration of the trial. To be prepared for such an occurrence, I started making plans on what schedules I would have to change, etc. Just in case. It would have been foolish to do otherwise.

A bigger concern for me personally came a bit later when we were told the nature of the trial and what it was about. The fact was I had myself received a colonoscopic examination over ten years ago from this very same Medical Group AND it was time for another examination AND as soon as I found the time to look up the Medical Group’s telephone number I had planned to schedule another such examination with them for myself. All my colonoscopy planning changed as I sat there in the jury box. It appeared to me to be foolish for me to knowingly make an appointment with a medical group that was being sued for wrongful death and medical malpractice without any indication whether or not there was merit to the lawsuit. Especially when there are other medical groups outside Cleveland County that do such procedures and have not been sued. And I stated exactly that during the jury selection process when you are asked all kinds of questions. More on that later too.

Since the early 1990s when I became knowledgeable of problems, concerns, issues and apparent corruption in Cleveland County Governmental agencies, including the judicial system, I have attended Commissioner’s meetings and done some court watching. Later I have started attending School Board meeting and Cleveland Community College Board of Trustee meetings. All the while doing some court watching on selected and often controversial jury and non-jury trials. I developed a standard MO for my jury trial cases. I would get there early enough to get a seat on the front row as close to the jury as possible. I wanted to see how the jury was selected and during the trial I wanted to hear what they heard and see what they saw.

I quickly learned that juries can be manipulated in various ways, but usually for the same reason. The lawyers and DAs involved wanted the verdict to come out a certain way and worked together to get the verdict they wanted.

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