New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reported for jury duty at the New York State Supreme Court, New York County,on August 6th, 2007. He was called for voir dire along with others into a courtroom where attorneys were set to begin picking a jury for a wrongful death lawsuit brought by a woman whose husband had died after years of operating a printing press that attorneys said contained asbestos in its brakes. The Mayor was not selected for that case.
Mayor Bloomberg returned to the Manhattan courthouse the following day where he was considered as a juror in a personal injury suit involving a taxicab crash. He was not chosen for that case, perhaps in part because of his appointing power at the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission. After not being selected for that case, he was dismissed from serving further jury duty.
Commenting on his experience, the Mayor stated: “As some of you know I was on jury duty and didn’t get picked for two days in a row,” the mayor said. “I don’t take it personally. I don’t take any pride in not being picked or dissatisfaction either way. It is what it is. It is what makes this country’s judicial system work: the fact that people are willing to go and serve and judge. You get a chance to have your peers judge you. It’s something I would urge everybody to do. Don’t just duck out. It gives you a good feeling about America and why we have the rights we have. You wish that we didn’t need juries, that there was no crime and no civil suits, but the real world is people have to make decisions as to what’s right and wrong.”
In 1999, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani served as jury foreman in a personal injury lawsuit brought by a tenant against his landlord, claiming that he was scalded in a hot shower. Other high-profile New Yorkers called to serve include Woody Allen, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Barbara Walters, Conan O’Brien, Spike Lee, news anchor Ann Curry, singer Roseanne Cash, sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Eliot Spitzer, before he became governor.
The attorneys at Levine & Slavit are in full agreement with the virtues of the jury system as extolled by the Mayor. The settlements reached and verdicts obtained on behalf of our clients would not be possible without our jury system. Those called for jury duty should appreciate the fact that they too could be parties to a litigation where they would benefit from the right to have that dispute resolved by a jury of their peers.
Unrelated to the foregoing, we sadly note that our friend Dr. Jeffrey Siegel would have turned 49 years old today had he not been struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on Mineola Avenue in Roslyn Heights, New York, this past July 6th. At last report, the vehicle involved has been positively identified, but the identity of the driver has not established because the owner of the vehicle has not been cooperating with the police. We hope the driver is identified and brought to justice.
Jeff’s life, both personally and professionally, touched a remarkably wide circle of people. He is missed dearly. Many victims of hit-and-run accidents do not realize that they may have insurance coverage under motor vehicle insurance policies issued to them or to members of their household. Even where the offending vehicle is identified, there may be additional coverage afforded to injured or killed pedestrians under an insurance policy issued to them or to members of their household, depending upon the relative amounts of insurance coverage afforded under the insurance policies of the offending vehicle and of the victim. Time is of the essence in such situations inasmuch as claims must be filed within 90 days of the date of accident.