Picture this scene of a courtroom... the person walks up past the gallery public seating, goes through the awkward swinging half door that feels much heavier than it looks, and nervously navigates pass the tables with the lawyers and other people she does not know. She briefly looks at the small pitcher of water on their table and wonder when she sits at the designated leather chair for her (behind another awkwardly swinging wooden door), will she have a water table too. Suddenly her throat is dry and she feels like she won’t be able to speak. This is especially puzzling because she has waited for this day to tell the “real truth”. She steps up to the uniformed officer who looks her in her eye as if she is not really there and says: “Do you swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” And she answers…
This scene is a display that happens in courtrooms across our country, state and city everyday. Although it is a familiar scene, it is often filled with unrealistic expectations, deep histories of emotions and past hurts, personal agendas, and ok I will say it - sometimes even lies! Yet, in the larger scheme of things most everyone seated in these courtrooms across the country and those waiting outside these hallowed halls are seeking, waiting, maybe even longing for their day or moment of THE TRUTH!
What is often outrageous about this concept is that we forget what is true today, is false tomorrow. What is true for ourselves as a value today, is an old news right wing moral standard tomorrow. What is flat today, is round tomorrow.Those you love today, you hate tomorrow... so on...
In court proceedings we are often enamored with the truth and what it provides. What we, that is the lawyers and judges and regular participants, do not tell the truth about is that rarely do the proceedings ferret out The Truth. What happens is a bunch of sides get told and someone decides what or who to believe. However, be very clear it is not about the truth. It is about what the information, called evidence, shows and what a person (e.g., judge, mediator, arbitrator, etc.) or persons decide they believe. It is that simple. Courtrooms are not high moral grounds where all falsehood and conjecture falls away. It is not a place of unblemished constitutional fairness and equality.What one could consider is this: a courtroom is a place where truth is expected, yet such an idea is very overrated.
I do not mean to be cynical or to say that court proceedings do not matter - because they do. I am simply asserting (and even encouraging) those that participate in the court process would do well to realize, it is about what we can prove, what people are willing to hear, and not “ the truth.” If we take this viewpoint then perhaps the lawyers and judges and professions of our court systems will not get so enamored with making their point! Perhaps the citizens, family members, and lay persons that participate will have more realistic expectations about what happens in real live court (and not neatly-wrapped-up-60-minute-television-court). Just maybe we can leave the truth telling to some other appropriate arena, some other era of life discovery or some other moment in time.
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If you have legal or faith questions, or perhaps another concern or question, feel free to contact me at:
Regina D. Jemison
500 Griswold, Suite 2410
Detroit, MI 48226