Well, I can assure you real jury duty isn’t like that.
It’s even more boring.
A few weeks ago I got that little red notice in the mail…summons for jury duty.
And wow…it told me what a privilege this was.
Curious about what would happen if I chose to ignore the summons I kept reading…
It appeared there were two possible penalties for not showing up:
“a fine not to exceed $100”
“CONTEMPT OF COURT”
Yes, it was real big letters like that. Hmmm…decisions, decisions. I thought about giving them a call to find out which one it would be in my case, because $100 doesn’t sound all that bad. Maybe I could just mail it in.
But contempt of court, well that sounds nasty like jail time kind of stuff…and probably worse than actual jury duty.
Calling them probably wasn’t a good idea, so I did the next best thing. I complained to whoever was willing to hear it and then went last week on Valentine’s Day like the good model citizen that I am.
After driving around the courthouse for a few minutes looking everywhere for a parking space, I eventually found one and went in.
They herded me to a big room jam packed with people at 8 o’clock in the morning like lambs waiting for the slaughter. All that was missing were the cattle prods. The sign on the wall said it could hold 300 and it looked packed.
They then told us how important this was, why they appreciated us, and they understood how valuable our time was.
They value my time. That’s great. So I waited, knowing how valuable my time was to them.
At 11:30, I heard my name!
I lined up with 13 other people to wait some more. Then they took us upstairs and told us to wait there. So we waited.
Eventually they brought us in to meet the judge, the 2 attorneys, and the defendant. They questioned us with basic questions like who you are, what do you do, who you work for, and the like.
I was thoroughly confident my ordeal would soon be over. I answered everything as truthfully and fully as possible.
Everyone had assured me they’d never want an opinionated libertarian who is an absolute stickler for the Constitution.
I was safe.
You could tell from the MOMENT we walked into the courtroom the lawyers were “on their game.” Everything they did was to pull you to their side.
I noticed how they used slight variations of words and phrases to change how you “felt” about the upcoming case.
The prosecutor told us we would hear the police officer share the “facts about the case.”
The defense attorney told us we would hear the police officer’s “opinion about what happened.”
Hmm…facts and opinion. Those are some emotional words with quite a difference in meaning.
Over and over again they said “similar statements” with slightly different words like this…always words that painted a different picture in your mind of course.
From what I saw, I’d bet the case is usually decided in jury selection.
Humans are emotional creatures and the likely verdict will come as a result of the movie that is playing in the minds of jurors when they make their decision.
In business, the right audience is more important than the offer and the exact words used.
That means the persuasion skills these lawyers use could be a life or death situation for someone. I’m glad this case wasn’t one of those!
When are they going to ask me a difficult question so they can kick me out?
Finally, the prosecutor is going to ask me a question! It’s my turn to go!
It went something like this, “If I told you I beat Michael Jordan at one-on-one, is that possible?”
My hopes deflated. I answered, “I guess it’s possible” with a ton of emphasis on the possible to make sure I emphasized it wasn’t bloody likely!
Then he went on to talk about reasonable doubt with no other really memorable questions. I answered about how I knew someone who was in a case like this before. I don’t know him well and didn’t know any details about his case.
It’s the defense attorney’s chance. Now I’m getting out of here!
He asked a couple of questions, the one I remember best was something about whether I ever get angry with my boss.
So I told him how the boss I work for is such a jerk and is always so hard on me. Then of course I told him that I was my own boss…
He laughed and simply said he’d remember not to ever ask me for a job.
He asked me what I thought about all the opinions we would hear. I told him I sure hoped we wouldn’t decide the case based just on opinions!
And he asked me if police ever make mistakes. Duh – they’re human so of course they do.
They sent us outside the courtroom to…you guessed it…all wait some more. They were going to pick 7 people for the jury (6 jurors + 1 secret alternate).
On the way out I noticed at least one of the lawyers had a grid of the jury box – a score sheet you could say on the potential jurors he may or may not want.
When we come back in they start calling names.
The first name called…that poor unlucky guy…hey that’s my name!
That’s right. There’s an old joke, “When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.”
The joke is about me. I didn’t even get lunch out of the deal.
If anyone’s interested I can share some more lessons in the future of how I saw persuasion being used in the trial itself since it’s over and we are permitted to talk about it (I would never reveal the names of anyone involved).
And if you really want to learn about persuasion and how it may determine how you spend the rest of your life, make sure to get on the list for the upcoming Total Conversion Code. It’s at the duplicator now, and you don’t want to miss out on the limited time discounts we’ll offer when we launch.