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April 2015 Archives

Is Expert Testimony Always Necessary?

In a recent Superior Court case involving alleged negligent security at a Bruins hockey game in Boston, the judge decided, contrary to what many believe is established precendent, that the plaintiff does not need to produce expert testimony in order for his case to go on to trial. The judge found that professional ice hockey is "inherently violent" and that where frustrated fans are "fueled by a volatile mix of unbridled physicality and alcohol, fights at TD Garden are forseeable." As to whether security measures taken by the defendants to prevent the plaintiff's injuries during a fight between fans were adequate under the circumstances, the judge deferred to"the collective wisdom of the jury as fact-finders." Some say the judge's ruling will not be upheld on appeal due to earlier case law requiring expert testimony in similar negligent security cases; others hail the ruling as practical and grounded in reality.

Juror Lists Must Now Be Made Public

The Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled that trial courts must create lists of jurors in all cases and make them available to the public "no later that the completion of trial." Justice Cordy concluded that revealing the identities of jurors is an ancient practice in Massachusetts, and he cited the 18th centruy Boston Massacre case, where the jurors who acquitted the British soldiers were known to the public. Jurors names may be withheld only if there is a "good cause" showing that a risk of harm to the jurors exists.  Justice Gants dissented, noting, among other things, that including a juror list in case files "may, over time, diminish the fairness and impartiality of jurors" and induce a greater reluctance among citizens to serve on a jury.

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