A friend of the family (let’s call him John) was discussing jury duty a couple of weeks ago. He was describing creative ways he avoids being summoned. When I reminded him of civic duty he proceeded to describe the many incidents in which defendants have been jailed for 10-15-20 years, then released because they were actually innocent. John’s point was “I could not live with myself if I was on a jury which unfairly punished someone innocent with such a dramatic sentence. A juror has an enormous responsibility which I am unprepared to undertake”.
After the SAP/Oracle verdict last week I was tempted to call “John” and ask “what if the defendant acknowledges its guilt? Would you be comfortable at least deciding on the punishment?”
SAP had already accepted it (or at least the TN unit) was not innocent, but was the award of $ 1.3 billion too harsh? Many analysts and bloggers think so. My own reaction – TN was about reducing Oracle’s 22% maintenance, so why was the award based on license value not the lost maintenance value? Did the jury understand the nuances of enterprise software, or was it in a punitive mood?
In reverse, I have talked to others who thought SAP’s apology to Oracle was flawed. Given the IP issues surrounding so many software companies today the last thing we need is tempting, juicy jury awards in the billions. Others felt …