Kurzban Kurzban Tetzeli and Pratt P.A.

Judge's negativity results in new trial

An appeals court has granted a woman a new trial in her civil case because the lower court judge jotted down a negative note about her during the trial. The higher court determined that his musings indicated bias against her during the medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor who allegedly damaged her ureter during surgery, which required her to need an external urine bag for three months. The ruling meant that she will have the right to a new jury trial and a new judge in the medical malpractice case.

The woman's lawyer reported that he had seen a note during her prior trial in May 2012 that made a reference to his client as a "bag lady." At the time, the lawyers were near the bench so that the jury couldn't hear their discussion. Court documents indicated that the lawyer questioned the judge about it, and at first he admitted to it. Later, he said it was gone. At the time, the judge said that any notes he wrote during the case weren't the business of anyone else. He added that he could do crossword puzzles if he wanted and that wasn't any of their business either. Her lawyer wanted him recused from the case, but the judge restated his position, indicating that his notes were his own and no one else should ever see them.

The jury eventually ruled against the plaintiff in the first case. However, the appellate court determined that she didn't receive a fair trial during her first court appearance. They indicated that she had the right to a "calm and dispassionate" environment, and the judge's notes denied her that.

When someone has been injured during what was supposed to be a corrective surgery, they might not know what rights they have. A personal injury attorney might be able to file a civil lawsuit to pursue compensation.

Source: The Ledger, "Appeal Court Rules Lakeland Woman to Get New Trial After Derogatory Note", Suzie Schottelkotte, October 18, 2013

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