Church Law and Tax 1989-03-01 Recent Developments Evidence Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA •

Church Law and Tax 1989-03-01 Recent Developments


The “Golden Rule” has been used by many attorneys in an attempt to justify large jury awards in civil lawsuits. Here’s how it works. Let’s assume that Mark has been seriously injured due to the negligence of Acme Company. Mark’s lawyer, in attempting to help the jury place a dollar value on Mark’s pain and suffering, asks the jurors to “place yourselves in Mark’s position, and award an amount of money that you would desire if you had been the victim.” This approach is referred to as the “Golden Rule argument,” and it generally is viewed as improper. For example, in a recent case, the Supreme Court of Washington observed: “The biblical Golden Rule states a standard of conduct for individuals: do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Luke 6:31). Generally, references by counsel to the Golden Rule, or other allusions to the rule such as urging jurors to place themselves in the position of one of the parties to the litigation, or to grant a party the recovery they would wish themselves if they were in the same position, constitutes an improper Golden Rule argument. Such an argument is improper because it encourages the jury to decide the case on the basis of personal interest and bias rather than on the evidence.” Adkins v. Aluminum Company of America, 750 P.2d 1257 (Wash. 1988).

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