Greg Mankiw wonders why he was kicked off the jury for a medical malpractice case when the only thing the court knew about his was his name, address and occupation.
Why does being a professor of economics at Harvard make one an undesirable juror in such a case? And does this say anything about the judicial system or the need for medical malpractice reform? I am not at all sure about the answers, but the experience did raise some intriguing questions.
There are two straightforward answers. One, someone knew who Greg Mankiw was and decided that his previously written opinions were not in the interest of their side.
Two, they were concerned that occupation was Economics Professor at Harvard. The lawyers would probably rightfully conclude that Greg would have unusual sway over the deliberations. Not many people are willing to question a Harvard professor and economists are particularly intimidating.
There is also the third possibility which I imagine Greg is imagining, that an economist would see through the attempt of one side or another to crank up the emotional quotient. Though I think this is less likely that the other two.