Doc Goes to the Courthouse
“Dr. Bibey Goes To The Courthouse”
For two days last year, I was on jury duty, and I thought folks might get some insight by hearing of my experience. And no, I wasn’t in any trouble or a malpractice case- it was a jury selection for a criminal case. I ended up being released because the defense deemed my background and life experience as a physician might be prejudicial in this particular case, at least that was my interpretation. We are supposed to be confidential about it, but the event was a year ago, and I fictionalized the experience anyway, so I can recap my thoughts without fear. Here’s how my two days as a potential juror went.
On Monday afternoon we went and watched a movie about the court system and filled out some paperwork. My County is small town, U.S.A., and I knew almost everyone there. I sat down beside the only dude I didn’t recognize, and it turns out he was an ex-con and convicted felon. (Like me, he ended up being released, but for different reasons.)
We put our hands on the Bible to swear in- me and the cocaine guy were together- and after a few hours we were released for the day and told to come back at 9:00am Tuesday. I went to the office and somehow the first patient I saw knew all the details, even down to knowing I was to go back at 9:00am the next morning!
The next morning we filled out some more paperwork, and were told we could go to the bathroom, but to be back in ten minutes. Ten minutes turned into a hour. I did not take anything to read. Because of this error, I had to watch an infomercial for Victoria Principle’s skin care line. That was bad enough, but the next program was a weight-loss/dance gig commercial pitch, and after five minutes of that I got up and told everyone that I was sorry, but I couldn’t take another minute of “Hip Hop Abs,” and had to stretch. Half of the potential jurors were my patients and most of the rest of them knew me through music and asked the lady in charge if it was O.K. for me to bring my mandolin.
When we went to jury selection, some of the lawyers laughed at a couple of my answers. I still can’t figure out why all these legal people find me so humorous, but it invariably happens every time. One time I was in a deposition about a car wreck, and the attorney stopped dead in his tracks and said he felt like he was interviewing a medical Mark Twain, and hadn’t had so much fun in years. I need to figure out why I am so amusing to all these legal guys before one of these things turns serious.
Of course, I knew of all the attorneys, clerks, recorders, bailiffs etc, etc, and perhaps I was excused on those grounds. Those of us not selected went back to the jury room, and waited again.
Finally the lady in charge (I’m not positive of her title) came into the room and told us before we left she wanted the other potential jurors to know that I was Dr. Tommy Bibey, and was a fine doctor and the best musician in the County, (I’m glad she wasn’t under oath- far from true there- well I’m an O.K. Doc, but not worth two cents as a professional musician) and they needed to come out and hear me play!
Then the three folks I wasn’t sure I knew came up to me and wondered if I would be their Doctor, and as did the ex-con, who now considered me his friend! Dang-est thing I ever saw, and I wondered if somehow this was related to them worrying I might just say whatever came to mind- a dangerous thing for a man under oath. I guess all that had some bearing on why they didn’t keep me that day.
All told, it was a peculiar foray into a world I had no bearings in, and I was glad to get back to the office and see some sick people.
I went home and thought about it and figured I better be the best Doc I can, ’cause I had the strange revelation that here in the County I’m not sure I wanted to go over to the Courthouse for anything more than a look-see.
After all that, I was glad I was in no trouble, and as Walter Hagen would say, decided to go home and smell the roses.