View from the Cheap Seats

July 21-27, 2014

New chair

By William O. Bill James, Jr.

It may be nothing more than a sign of my advancing age, but I have spent a lot of time over the last three months thinking that I needed a new chair at home. I have thought about going shopping for such a chair many times but have never once done more than look at advertisements in the Sunday paper. I don’t know if I have been too busy, too lazy, or unsure of what kind of chair I wanted.

Last week, I was out of town in a three-day jury trial. We did closing arguments Friday morning, and the jury retired to deliberate. This is an awkward time for an attorney. What do you do to kill time while you wait? Once you have spoken to your client and their family and checked your emails, it becomes nothing but a waiting game. I try to take work with me, but my productivity is usually pretty low.

After the jury members got back from their lunch break, I had run out of things to do. I left my cell number with the bailiff and wandered around the town square. It was while wandering around that I came upon a furniture store. I figured it would be a good place to kill time, and maybe I could find a chair. After looking at bedroom sets and couches, I found the room full of recliners. My eyes immediately went to the back row, where there were several large leather chairs. Having nothing else to do, I was able to sit in each and every chair and test them out.

I lingered in one particular chair longer than the others, and it was at this point that the salesman came over and asked me if I liked the chair in which I was sitting. Feeling a little uneasy because I had been loitering, I told him I did like the chair. He told me I would like it even more if I would lift the right arm and turn on the massage function. I did, and he was correct. I asked him if they delivered, and he said they did. The sale was made.

After buying the chair, I asked permission to sit in it while I waited on the jury. He gave me permission. I found out that the massage cycle in the chair went for 20 minutes before it automatically turned off. I cat-napped in the chair for three cycles before finally getting called back to the courthouse. I returned to the court room much more relaxed than when I had left two hours earlier. Five minutes later, my client left the court room much more relaxed, as the jury had agreed that she was not guilty of any criminal act.

By the time you read this, I will have had the chair for almost a week. My guess is that, by that time, it will be hard to imagine living without it. It is possible that I exaggerate the effect that the chair will have on my life, but I truly believe that it will add years to my life. Even if doesn’t extend my life, it will at least add some relaxation as long as it lasts. The real trick will be going home so I can actually sit in it. I tried to have it delivered to the office, but Patti vetoed that idea.

Overall, it turned out to be a great day for me and my client. I am not sure which one of us is happier. She did keep her freedom, but I got a massaging chair. I guess it doesn’t have to be a competition. We both have the right to be happy. The difference between the two of us is that she had no control over how long it took to get to trial, and I could have gotten a chair months ago. There are some things in life we have no control over, but there are many things we can do today that will make us happier. Waiting until tomorrow to do what you can do today to increase your happiness is just plain stupid. That is true for everyone, especially those of us way up in the CHEAP SEATS!

This article was originally published in The Daily Record on Oct. 11, 2013.

Bill James is a co-founder of the James Law Firm with offices in Little Rock, Conway and Fayetteville, Arkansas. His primary area of practice is criminal defense.  He can be contacted at