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Clouding the jury pool

MBJ Editorial

A troubling result of the high-profile revelations of corporate chicanery we have seen in the past few months has ended up in an interesting place: the jury pool.

According to a story in the August 12th edition of The Wall Street Journal, “In courtrooms around the country, companies are facing the specter of guilt by association.”

It’s become increasingly common for likely jurors to carry an anti-business bias thanks to the misdeeds at companies like WorldCom, Enron and Tyco.

Continuing with the WSJ report, “…corporate defendants are facing jury pools far more cynical about business ethics than just a year ago. Jurors who have seen the value of their stock portfolios plunge may be particularly primed to punish corporate wrongdoing and excess.”

The fallout from these most recent big business scandals are having a number of unfortunate consequences for well run and well intentioned companies. It isn’t fair, but it is the reality.

How the business community deals with these challenges, whether real or simply perceived incorrectly, is vital to the economy. It’s up to the rest of us to cast off the taint of a few bad apples.

Mississippi faces a significant public health challenge from the West Nile virus. Although the chances of contracting the virus through a bite from an infected mosquito are remote, the disease is spreading throughout the state, and in all likelihood, it will claim more victims.

So, what can be done? A few simple things can go a long way in protecting people from exposure to West Nile:

• Use an insect repellent containing DEET.

• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

• Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk; avoid spending time outdoors then.

• Get rid of any standing water around your home or business.

Businesses must also do what they can to protect employees who spend most of their time outdoors. Fortunately, most do.

There’s no need to panic about the West Nile virus. It’s serious, but it can be thwarted with a good dose of caution and spray of DEET.

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