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Greg Cusimano
Greg Cusimano
Attorney • (256) 543-0400

The Empathy Issue


It is not often that I agree with columnist David Brooks. However on May 29th 2009 he published an article in the New York Times called “The Empathy Issue” that deserves note. Actually he was referring to the U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. The article attracted my attention, because while Brooks was referring to how emotion affects decision-making as it relates to a judge, it expresses admirably my sentiment concerning those that serve on our juries.

Brooks relates:

“The decision-making process gets even murkier once the judge has absorbed the disparate facts of a case. When noodling over some issue — whether it’s a legal case, an essay, a math problem or a marketing strategy — people go foraging about for a unifying solution. This is not a hyper-rational, orderly process of the sort a computer might undertake. It’s a meandering, largely unconscious process of trial and error.”

I often say in my writings or lectures, that we are not rational beings we are rationalizing beings. Substituting the word “jury” for “judge” makes the statement non the less true.


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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Very good point. Thanks for the link.

  2. Steve Lombardi says:
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    Nice point that is often left out of the equation when discussing tort reform and non-economic damages. We are not computers but human beings. The insurance industry would love us to remove human emotion from the jury deliberation process but to do so would leave us with cook book justice; nothing humans could stomach. Thanks for the link.