Many people don’t realize the importance of venue in the handling of a personal injury case. In a legal context, venue refers to the location of the courthouse. Every venue has its own idiosyncrasies, and it’s important for an attorney to know the venue in which he or she is litigating a case. For instance, in general, a personal injury case in Leon County has a significantly different value than a personal injury case in Gadsden County. This has to do with the beliefs and attitudes of the local jurors with regards to personal injury claims. There are some areas of the country where personal injury lawsuits are frowned upon, and others where they are seen as an essential part of a system of justice. I tried a case in a venue one time where I learned during jury selection that the locals were dead set against awarding money for somebody’s pain and suffering in a personal injury case. I asked the simple question to the potential jurors, “By a showing of hands, how many of you are against awarding money for the pain and suffering of the victim of somebody else’s carelessness?” Every single juror on that jury panel raised his or her hand with enthusiasm. Since the entire case was about my clients’ emotional pain and suffering due to a wrongful death, we had a problem. Needless to say, the trial resulted in defense verdict, and I learned the hard way the value of knowing your venue.
Leon County is a venue with a healthy mixture of people of varying beliefs and attitudes. We have a diverse culture with people of various educational and socio-economic backgrounds. Tallahassee especially has small town charm but also provides the diversity of a small city. In my experience, the people in Leon County are friendly and congenial. They expect good manners and professionalism from lawyers in the courtroom. They are unlikely to respond well to overly aggressive, rude, or boastful lawyers. For any lawyer who endeavors to litigate in Leon County, it’s helpful to attempt to defeat your opponent gracefully with a passion for truth and justice, compassion for the client, good story telling, and a little bit of southern charm.
It’s also helpful to get to know the preferences of the local judges. Leon County has excellent judges, who are not only dedicated to following the law, but who also have the experience of dealing even-handedly with the opposing forces inherent in litigation. Some judges have strict policies with regards to procedures, discovery, and the trial order, which they enforce without fail. Others are more relaxed in their approach. I’ve seen some out of town lawyers shocked and dismayed about rulings from local judges that were no surprise to me at all. After working with a judge for a while, it’s sometimes possible to gain an understanding of the judge’s decision making process. This can be helpful when advocating for a client. A lot of the judges’ preferences can be found on the Leon County Court website. Judicial assistants can also be very helpful in providing information regarding the judges’ procedural preferences.
Leon County is a great place to live, and a great place to practice law, but any lawyer considering litigating here should take the time to get to know the local culture and the local judges. And, if you are looking for an attorney to handle your case, you should make sure you choose one who understands the local Court. It could make all the difference in the outcome of the case.