Interest in attorney-conducted voir dire is growing among members of the plaintiff's personal injury bar. This is fueled by concerns about potential juror bias resulting from widespread attacks on the existing tort system from influences such as President Bush's push for a federal cap on non-economic damages in medical negligence cases and years of negative media coverage resonating from the "spilled hot coffee case," known to the public simply as the McDonald's case.
Recent news that the Virginia divorce bar was in turmoil over the criminal conviction of attorney John R. Bushey Jr. for adultery1
was probably greeted more with bemusement than concern by most Massachusetts lawyers, even those harboring guilty consciences. Before dismissing this as merely another difference between the conservative South and the liberal Northeast, Bushey's Massachusetts counterparts might do well to reflect that while he was convicted of a misdemeanor carrying a maximum fine of $250, unfaithful spouses in Massachusetts face - at least theoretically - up to three years in prison.
Since the beginning of fiscal 2002, it has been apparent that the Massachusetts government has been in a state of financial free-fall. The result of this circumstance has had no greater impact than upon the state's court system. Reductions in funding for the state's trial court has resulted in layoffs and early retirements, reduced court sessions and counter hours at clerks' and registers' offices, delays in case processing and trials' scheduling.