From Bucks Count Pennsylvania comes a cautionary tale with an important lesson for drama queens, hypochondriacs, and people who just have a tendency toward hyperbole:
Exaggerating is the same as lying.
Juror Anthony DiCicco wasn’t trying to get out of jury duty; in fact, he was looking forward to it. He had been very sick a few weeks before the July trial in which he was impaneled got underway, but he thought he had fully recuperated. Then, in the middle of the trial, he began feeling ill again. Wanting to make sure that nobody thought he was a weenie but fearing to infect the jury by staying on, DiCicco didn’t just tell an official he was ill. He said that he had just received a call from his doctor informing him that he had swine flu.
AS Bucks County Judge Clyde W. Waite noted later, he might as well have said, “I have the bubonic plague.” The jury was released. The trial was halted with a mistrial. Jurors were afraid to go home or return to work, fearing spreading the dread disease. The judge even had to skip a family funeral as a precaution.
DiCicco’s exaggeration, his lie, cost the litigants and the County money as well as inconveniencing and alarming dozens of people. When the juror’s misrepresentation was finally revealed, Judge Krantz found him in contempt of court and sentenced him to three days of watching trials.
DiCicco got off relatively easy, because he had really been ill; if he had been lying about that part too, the punishment would have been worse. It should have been anyway: I would have fined him. Exaggeration can cause just as much harm as any other lie. It is a habit worth breaking.
As Jack Webb used to say on the old radio and TV police show, “Dragnet”: “Just the facts, ma’am!”
The truth is one cake that frosting ruins.