The CommStock Report – 04/26/04
Copyright 2004 (C) CommStock Investments, Inc.
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Picket versus IBP isn’t over
When U.S. District Judge Lyle Strom overthrew a jury verdict against IBP in the Pickett versus Tyson cattleman’s class action lawsuit, I wasn’t shocked or surprised. I didn’t think the system worked and the Judge only confirmed my suspicion. My initial response was that if a judge can overrule a jury, why bother with the jury process? Why should plaintiffs even bother to argue a case to a jury when a judge has veto power over the procedure? It seems like a whole lot of trouble and expense to go through to pick a jury, disturb their lives, have Tyson lawyers and economists insult them as not being smart enough to decide a case this complicated, and then have the judge pitch their finding. If I was one of the jurors, I think I’d find Judge Strom in contempt
of court. It’s hard not to have contempt for such a system.
We’re told in grade school that the U.S. legal system is based on a right to a jury of our peers. I wasn’t informed of any fine print that said if a judge didn’t like a jury’s verdict that he could throw it out. Our system of laws was made by juries as they set precedent cited in future cases. That’s a theory, obviously not put in practice by Judge Strom. Cattle producers went to court because they couldn’t get their grievances addressed by Congress or government.
In other words, they didn’t have success with the legislative or executive branches of government so that left them with the judicial branch to seek redress from. Special interests are so deeply imbedded in the Congress and government bureaucracy that we see time and again that even if legislation passes Congress, such as with mandatory price reporting, Packers and Stockyards Law or COOL, they have control of the system down so well from ownership of the power centers, such as key legislative committee chairmen, those holding political leadership positions or key government positions in the USDA that implementation and enforcement of laws passed by Congress are circumvented so that intent is never realized.
In other words, the system doesn’t work for real people, it works for those who control the process for special benefit. That’s not meant to be a cynical opinion. It is simply a realistic observation from the experience of seeing how things have worked. I don’t know that it’s indicative of only the Bush Administration or the Republican Congress.
I’m not convinced that changing either will solve the problem. Republicans took control of Congress when it became apparent the Democratic Congress was no long serving the people. There was a momentary period of reform until special interests endeared to Republicans became entrenched. Today the Republican Congress is exhibiting many of the same fundamental deficiencies as the previous Democratic controlled Congress, (not changing Congress would leave things are as they are.)
Picket versus IBP isn’t over. Judge Strom doesn’t have the last word. The case is being appealed and they may find judges in other courts who still think juries mean something. I believe there is merit in Pickett versus IBP and I believe the jury recognized and understood that merit. Regardless, right or wrong, our jury system should not be overruled by judges that don’t agree with verdicts rendered, otherwise the next time there is a call for jury duty, why in the world would anybody bother to show up? The problem is that a country in which laws are made by judges and special interests and not juries representative of the people, would soon no longer represent what we’ve come to expect of the United States of America.