A Peer of Your Juries

An article concerning the probate of the Estate of local oil pioneer provides an interesting glimpse into the mind of potential jurors.

I recently ran across a Houston Chronicle article concerning the Estate of Alfred C. Glassell. It seems the daughter of the oil pioneer and cultural philanthropist has contested the probate of his will, on the grounds that he was unduly influenced. Her claim revolves around the allegation that local museums (i.e. their attorneys) convinced the elderly man to change his will and give more to charity (i.e. the museums) thereby leaving less for his heirs (i.e. the daughter).

What struck me was not the content of the article, Lord knows there’s nothing new in a beneficiary contesting a will in a multi-million dollar estate. No, what caught my eye was the comment section located below the on-line version of the article. I was curious to see how joe public views such a fight. The results were not too surprising.

Of the 70 comments, my unofficial count was 12 in favor of the daughter, and 30 against. I noticed the following terms used to describe the daughter: “greedy wench,” “trust fund baby,” “roaches,” “brain dead liberal,” and my personal favorite “money grubbing wannabe heiress.” One poster asked “being a millionaire isn’t enough?”

However, I was somewhat surprised by the number of those who questioned the “disproportionate share” and lamented on how all of the estate was going to be sucked up by the money hungry attorneys. In fact, I counted at least ten anti-lawyer comments. Funny, I can’t remember any lawyer ever filing a suit without a client, but then again, I’ve come to expect such comments in my line of work. Like they say, the problem with lawyer jokes is that lawyers think they’re funny and everyone else thinks their true.

Either way, it should be interesting to see how the trial pans out, if these comments were any indication as to the bias of a potential jury pool, I would say the daughter is facing an uphill battle.