The Appeal

The Appeal by John Grisham. I need a review of the book answering the following questions below. John Grisham, a lawyer by training, has written a number of novels about the law, many of which have been made into popular movies.  The Appeal is a story about a large and powerful chemical corporation that has been sued by residents in a small Mississippi town for wrong full death action. Carl Trudeau, the CEO of the Krane Corporation, is anxious to appeal the verdict to the Mississippi Supreme Court but needs to ensure that the court will provide a friendly and sympathetic forum for his claim. This popular novel is an easy and enjoyable read.  However, the story also explores a variety of issues associated with civil litigation and judicial elections. As you read the book consider the ideas about civil litigation and the election of judges that are part of the novel’s storyline: Does it seem like the opposing litigants portrayed in The Appeal are able to bring different amounts of resources to the lawsuit described in the story? Does it seem that these power asymmetries between the parties affects the course of the litigation? Can the average juror properly assess the complex scientific and medical evidence needed to render a verdict in a case like the one in the novel that deals with the claim that a large corporation has caused a cancer cluster in the small Mississippi town? Why does the Krane Corporation appeal the verdict instead of just paying the damages and moving on?  Why does Krane decide to focus so much attention to Justice McCarthy’s reelection to the Mississippi Supreme Court? What does the novel tell you about elections in general and judicial elections in particular? Sheila McCarthy was originally appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court and ran unopposed when her first term ended. She now faces opposition in a nonpartisan judicial election. The company that Trudeau and the Krane Corp. hires to navigate through the election campaign has found a “stealth” candidate with no record to attack. Incumbents, such as Sheila McCarthy, on the other hand, have public records that can be used as targets in an election campaign. What do you make of how the company supporting Trudeau and Krane used polls to attack Sheila McCarthy?  One poll question asks “Are you aware that Justice McCarthy is considered the most liberal member of the Mississippi Supreme Court”?  (pp 254-257).  Do you see a problem with such questions? Can campaign ads  be used to easily attack an incumbent on highly charged issues like the death penalty and crime or label the incumbent as a “liberal” in a conservative state?  Does Grisham (the author) seem to assume that voters are easily manipulated? Is there anything about a non- partisan judicial election that might make such manipulation easier than in a partisan election?

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