South Lyon man with opera voice excused from being on jury for Oakland County trial

Justin Burgess says jury duty interfered with opera scholarship requirement


SOUTH LYON, Mich. – A South Lyon man with an opera voice was almost chosen for an Oakland County jury, but his voice, in a way, is the reason he's not in court.

There's a heavy criminal case inside Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Dan O'brien's courtroom this season, and it needs a jury to determine if a man is guilty.

"I am a young opera singer," Justin Burgess said.

When the jury was being selected, Burgess was off-screen on a courtroom recording, trying to explain that he has an opera camp and will lose part of his scholarship if he doesn't show up.

"I actually got a pretty decent scholarship, but I have to do an outreach program," Burgess said.

Local 4 caught up with Burgess on a video chat and he said he would lose out on more than $1,000 if he had to sit on the jury -- but that isn't a legal reason to be excused.

"I was having a minor panic attack," Burgess said. "I could feel myself shaking."

Fortunately for Burgess, the lawyers are still allowed to excuse a potential juror.

"Your honor, I'm going to excuse our opera singer," a lawyer said. "You can sing on your way out."

O'Brien said courtrooms can be unsettling at times, so this was a breath of fresh air.

"It doesn't matter what the trial is, it's a trial," O'Brien said. "Why not lighten it up?"

You can watch Nick Monacelli's full story in the video posted above.

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