Judges, like most people, have a hard time admitting they’re wrong. Well, maybe even a harder time than most people. That black robe is an ego-inflater. A lowly lawyer gets elected, dons the robe and — voila! — he is suddenly addressed as “your honor”. People stand up when he walks into a room. You get the picture.
That’s why an article in the New York Law Journal — titled “Judge Admits Mistake and Slashes Damages” caught my eye. The article is about a judge who admitted he was wrong without having to be told so by an appellate court. He said his original decision – which awarded $1 million to the children of a deceased medical malpractice victim as compensation for their lost future financial support and parental guidance – was “misinformed”, and then slashed the award down to $150,000.
The judge explained that a re-read of the trial testimony made him realize the father was kind of a creep (ok so I’m paraphrasing). His financial support was on-again-off-again, and his “parental guidance” barely had a pulse (there I go again . . .). The same sad trickle (more poetic license on my part) of fatherly love and support demonstrated before dad’s death was likely to have continued had he not died. In other words, he wasn’t worth much as a father before he died, so why should we think he would have been worth much at all had he lived?
This about-face is a double whammy for the kids. They got screwed by having a creep for a dad and now that he’s dead they’re getting their money award slashed because — well — their dad was a creep.
Would have been much better if the judge had gotten it right the first time instead of lifting the kids’ hopes up with Decision number 1 just to smash them to the ground with Decision number 2. I can’t help felling sorry for these kids. . .
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Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central and Syracuse NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.