Thursday, May 21, 2009

What do you see?, Part I

There are times when I am reminded that you and I don’t see the world the same way. My wife comes from South Texas. You can see in the picture what it looks like—on a good day. I come from Glen Lake, Michigan, and I’ve put a picture up of Glen Lake as well, so you can see what it looks like.

For the life of me I cannot understand what my wife sees in South Texas, but it’s beautiful to her eyes. It is just as beautiful to her as Glen Lake is to me. (Objective observers would, of course, find Glen Lake far more beautiful!).

Everything we do, remember and have been influences how we see the world. Once I was examined by two lawyers selecting a jury. The prosecutor asked me: “Do you think your experience as an attorney would influence how you reach your decision in this case?”

I answered “Yes”.

The defense attorney asked if I could put those experiences aside and make a fair judgment solely on the facts as presented and the Court’s instructions.

Once again I answered “Yes”.

The two attorneys repeated the same questions twice more, always getting the same answer from me. Finally the judge became exasperated with me, and asked which was it, would the fact that I was attorney affect how I came to a judgment, or could I put that aside and be fair.

I answered: “Both your honor, my experience as an attorney affects how I see the world but I think I can make a judgment based on the facts and your instructions.” At that point the judge threw me out of the courtroom. As mad as he was, I was lucky not to be held in contempt.

I still think my answers to both questions were true. I would have made the same answer to the first question if I had been asked if that fact that I was white or Irish or loved basketball or had two children or had a cup of coffee for breakfast would affect my judgment.

If, however, I had been asked if South Texas were beautiful, then that would be a question where I could answer “No”.

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