Justice, ethnicity, immigration status, and empathy

Thomas Lifson
The Texas Supreme Court is being asked to void a $15.8 million damages award to a family which lost four members in a truck accident because the driver's illegal immigrant status was mentioned during the trial, and purportedly inflamed the jury. Chuck Lindell writes in the Austin Statesman:

The information "gave permission to this non-Hispanic jury to decide that the truck driver was responsible - not because he crossed the center line of the highway, but because he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and was allowed to drive the truck," TXI's lawyer, Reagan Simpson, told the court during oral arguments in October.

Lawyers for the Hughes family, which lost members of four generations in the accident, said the immigration information was presented to show that the truck driver did not have a viable commercial driver's license and that TXI did not properly investigate its employee's driving record.

"TXI admitted that it didn't train or test him and took on face value that he had seven years of driving experience," said Brian Stagner, a lawyer for the Hughes family. "We were able to prove, in part by using immigration evidence, that he had little over two years."

I have to wonder how advocates of empathy as a judicial tool would handle this case. Would empathy for the aggrieved family count for anything, or only empathy for a member of an established victim category?

How is one supposed to believe that the trucking company fulfilled its responsibility to select capable drivers if the individual they chose wasn't even in the country legally?

Should the family be denied just compensation for its terrible loss because a clearly relevant (in my mind) fact was introduced, it will be a terrible injustice. That would seem to be a step down the path of a two class system of justice, with presumed victims held to a lower standard of behavior.

Hat tip: David Paulin
The Texas Supreme Court is being asked to void a $15.8 million damages award to a family which lost four members in a truck accident because the driver's illegal immigrant status was mentioned during the trial, and purportedly inflamed the jury. Chuck Lindell writes in the Austin Statesman:

The information "gave permission to this non-Hispanic jury to decide that the truck driver was responsible - not because he crossed the center line of the highway, but because he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and was allowed to drive the truck," TXI's lawyer, Reagan Simpson, told the court during oral arguments in October.

Lawyers for the Hughes family, which lost members of four generations in the accident, said the immigration information was presented to show that the truck driver did not have a viable commercial driver's license and that TXI did not properly investigate its employee's driving record.

"TXI admitted that it didn't train or test him and took on face value that he had seven years of driving experience," said Brian Stagner, a lawyer for the Hughes family. "We were able to prove, in part by using immigration evidence, that he had little over two years."

I have to wonder how advocates of empathy as a judicial tool would handle this case. Would empathy for the aggrieved family count for anything, or only empathy for a member of an established victim category?

How is one supposed to believe that the trucking company fulfilled its responsibility to select capable drivers if the individual they chose wasn't even in the country legally?

Should the family be denied just compensation for its terrible loss because a clearly relevant (in my mind) fact was introduced, it will be a terrible injustice. That would seem to be a step down the path of a two class system of justice, with presumed victims held to a lower standard of behavior.

Hat tip: David Paulin