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August 07, 1979 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1979-08-07

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The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, August 7, 1979-Page 9

W.W:9 W

Study shows
PBB effects
worry state
farmers
Burger calls
for end of
jury trials in
civil cases
WASHINGTON (AP) - Chief Justice
Warren Burger wants the nation's cour-
ts and legal profession to consider
eliminating jury trials in complicated
civil cases.
In a speech prepared for delivery
today in Flagstaff, Ariz., Burger called
for a "new look" into how non-criminal
legal cases are decided.
Without specifically endorsing the
idea, Burger told a meeting of state
chief judges that civil jury elimination
in federal and state courts deserves fur-
ther study.
IN THE INTERIM, he said, "some
innovative lawyers should, as some
have done, waive juries in the com-
plicated trials of a month or more." In
such instances, Burger suggested that
the case be decided by a panel of three
judges rather than the traditional
single judge.
"If you agree that this subject deser-
ves a new look, I urge that ... we join
forces and enlist others to explore
alternatives to litigation patterns that
we may have outgrown," he said.
Burger's numerous suggestions for
change in the administration of justice
since he became the nation's highest-
ranking judge ten years ago often have
sparked controversy. And his latest
proposal, a fundamental change in civil
trials, is bound to stir much debate
within the legal profession.
THE CHIEF justice said that jury
duty, which often may disrupt family
life and business or professional
obligations, is an "obligation of citizen-
ship."
He added: "Some day the claim may
be made by a plumber or electrician
that to compel him to serve on a jury for
five or six months at $30 a day when he
customarily earns at least $100 a day
deprives him of property without due
process and just compensation.
"FAR MORE unusual claims have
been made to the courts in recent
times," Burger said.
Burger listed several "factors to be
taken into account with respect to the
use of lay jurors" in protracted and
complex civil trials:
* Experienced business and
professional people rarely survive jury
selection challenges. "The jury ac-
tually selected is rarely a true cross-
section, as we are so fond of repeating."
* Factual issues of "enormous com-
plexity" often can be understood only
by a sophisticated businessperson, an
economist, or another expert.
" Legal issues that must be explained
by a judge in instructions to jurors may
take days, taxing jurors' memories and
comprehension.

DETROIT (UPI)-Farmers affected by the 1973 outbreak
of PBB contamination are wracked with depression and
feelings of guilt over the danger to Michigan consumers, a
psychological study showed yesterday.
The study by doctors at Henry Ford Hospital, published in
the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first
of its kind researching the human psychological effects of the
epidemic.
Drs. Gregory Brown and Roger Nixon tested a group of 21
farmers and compared their results with a non-farm control
group of Detroit area residents.
ALL FARMERS involved had complained of physical
ailments. Many also said they had memory problems.
PBB, or polybrominated biphenyls, is a fire retardant
chemical that was accidentally mixed with livestock feed
distributed to farms across the state. resulting in the deaths.

quarantine and slaughter of thousands of dairy cattle,
chickens and pigs.
Farm families exposed to the chemical also have
displayed symptoms ranging from rashes to loss of hair and
lethargy.
THE FARMERS surveyed in the latest study were given a
battery of tests ranging from physical and mental coor-
dination to color identification.
Depression has hit most of the famers hard, Brown said
"In some of them, it was evident right away. They looked
lethargic and tired," he said,
Brown said the psychological aspect of the PBB problem
has been ignored too long by researchers.
"IN ALMOST every study, under the neurological disor-
ders column, scientists have listed sleep disorders, fatigue,
See PBB, Page 11

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