Back in 1985, a younger John Edwards “stood before a jury and channeled the words of an unborn baby girl,” the New York Times recently reported in a front-page story about the senator’s spectacularly successful career as a trial lawyer. The poor child whose words Edwards shared with the North Carolina jury suffered brain damage that Edwards hoped to pin on the obstetrician who failed to heed a fetal heart monitor’s distress signals. Since being elected to the Senate, Edwards has obviously not heard such desperate little voices given his vehement opposition to any restriction on abortion, even the gruesome partial-birth-abortion procedure.
Referencing the hour-by-hour monitor readings, Edwards told the jury, “She said at 3, ‘I’m fine.’ She said at 4, ‘I’m having a little trouble, but I’m doing O.K.’…At 5:30, she said, ‘I need out.’” His closer: “She speaks to you through me…I feel her presence. She’s inside me, and she’s talking to you.” Edwards’s clients won a $6.5 million verdict in that cerebral-palsy case and Edwards went on to win over $60 million in about 20 similar lawsuits over allegedly botched deliveries against doctors and hospitals. His share of the verdicts was typically about a third.
Large contingency fees encourage lawyers’ aggression and passion. Who knew that they could improve a lawyer’s hearing?