Are Juries Prejudiced Against Non-English-Speaking Plaintiffs?

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Non-English speakers who have been injured and are suing in a personal injury or wrongful death case should make sure their lawyer knows how to keep the jurors' judgment from being clouded by language bias.

It's unacceptable that in our democratic society, some people are being treated like second-class citizens in the courtroom

A recent study has exposed a serious breach of equality in the courtroom that has long outraged Jeffrey Kroll, of the Law Offices of Jeffrey J. Kroll.

The study, sponsored by Texas Tech University, found that English-speaking plaintiffs are 15 percent more likely to obtain a favorable jury trial verdict than non-English-speaking Hispanics when suing in a court of law.

"It's unacceptable that in our democratic society, some people are being treated like second-class citizens in the courtroom," Kroll says. "Nobody knows this is going on, and it's just not fair."

Non-English speakers who have been injured and are suing in a personal injury or wrongful death case should make sure their lawyer knows how to keep the jurors' judgment from being clouded by language bias.

"Tragedy doesn't discriminate, but people do -- including jurors," Kroll says.

However, he says the apparent disadvantage non-English-speaking plaintiffs have in a jury trial can be overcome by the manner in which a lawyer presents evidence. Kroll himself has successfully represented several non-English-speaking plaintiffs and had several settlements in excess of a million dollars in which the plaintiff did not speak English.

Kroll counters a potentially prejudiced jury by choosing from an arsenal of techniques he has stockpiled from his 17 years' experience as a trial lawyer, including the following:

  •     Use of visual aids. Kroll uses photographs, videotapes or old home movies that show the injured person engaging in "joyful" activities before the incident in order to draw a stark contrast to the plaintiff's life after the incident. He used this technique to demonstrate that one of his clients, who was part of a mariachi band, had suffered a crushing injury to his hand that prohibited from playing in the band any longer.
  •     "Before and after" witnesses. Kroll asks for testimony from English-speaking individuals that knew his client both before and after the occurrence. For example, when he represented a Hispanic client who loved soccer, he had a witness testify about his observations of the plaintiff's soccer abilities before the accident, and how the plaintiff had to watch a soccer match from the sidelines after the accident.
  •     Jury selection. Lawyers must pinpoint and de-select jurors who may be prejudiced against non-English speakers. Kroll says this is one of the most crucial areas for lawyers to take into account, and they must realize that some people are prejudiced, and may go into trials with racially or ethnically motivated agendas of their own.

Above all, Kroll emphasizes that people who have been injured and are bringing a lawsuit must make sure they are dealing with an experienced trial lawyer who will take their language into consideration.

Jeffrey J. Kroll is the principal at the Law Offices of Jeffrey J. Kroll, a Chicago law firm known for its compassionate representation of victims of auto, truck and bus accidents. For more information about Jeffrey J. Kroll and the Law Offices of Jeffrey J. Kroll, visit http://www.kroll-lawfirm.com.

To schedule an interview with Jeffrey J. Kroll, contact:
Tom Ciesielka, (312) 422-1333

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THOMAS CIESIELKA

Jeffrey J. Kroll

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