LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Gov. Patrick Signed Trial Court Bill into Law

On August 6, 2014 Governor Deval Patrick signed into law House Bill 4123, the “Trial Court bill which allows attorneys to conduct voir dire of prospective jurors and to propose a specific dollar amount of damages during trial. Litigants will now have greater opportunity to explore potential preconceptions and possible bias of potential jurors and enhancing access to justice. It is a greater opportunity to have the trial decided on the merits presented at trial.

Additionally in what has been colloquially described as the “Numbers Bill,” attorneys may now suggest a value to the jury related providing guidance to jurors who need to answer often vague and nebulous question: “How much do you find for the Plaintiff for his/her conscious pain and suffering” What is fair and just compensation for permanent impairment or serious disfigurement. Parties can now suggest to the jury what they believe the evidence shows with respect to value and increasing the public’s access to justice by promoting fair and just compensation. Much needed guidance, where before there was not much.

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