A “jury of one’s peers” as the Constitution provides, does not mean all jurors receive the same evidence in the same way.
Where a juror lives often reflects community bias, more or less favorable to personal injury litigation. Juries in Cook County (Chicago) are considered more favorable for personal injury litigation than DuPage County (Wheaton, Naperville).
As a DuPage judge once told me in a medical malpractice case, “I have been a judge here for 10 years, and not one medical malpractice case was decided in favor of a plaintiff.” Why is this? The answer is complicated and not perfectly knowable, but has to do with the different make up of certain communities—in income, religion, cultural diversity, typical employment, and education.
So if there is a choice as to which courthouse in which to file a lawsuit (the legal term for this is “venue”) plaintiff’s attorneys will always try to file suit in a courthouse more favorable to litigation. Defense counsel will want the suit to proceed in a trial location less favorable. This does not mean that individual judges are biased one way or the other. But judges do not often decide a case. Juries do.
There are rules which determine the trial location. For instance, a personal injury case can always be filed in the county where the accident occurred. Or the county in which a defendant lives or conducts business. Sometimes the accident occurs in one county but the defendant does business in multiple counties (think of a car-truck accident, for example on an interstate expressway in Illinois, where the trucker conducts business throughout the state). Where will the personal injury case be prosecuted?
As you can imagine, there can be severe conflicts between plaintiff-defense counsel over where the trial location should be, conflicts which can only be resolved by a judge. This involves something like a “trial within a trial”, where evidence is presented to the judge by each side, as to why the case should proceed in one county or another. The outcome of this issue can be decisive in determining the value of your case. If you think you have a personal injury case and have questions about the venue, please contact our Chicago law firm!