After the unexpected death of Prince, I’ve been reading so many tributes to him. I decided to add one of my own. During my time in courtrooms over the years, one of the most interesting was the day Prince came to court. What was he like? Everyone asks me.
He owned several companies that operated parts of his business at Paisley Park in Minnesota. For instance, one of his companies owned the real estate, another owned the recording equipment, etc. While working at the studio, one of Prince’s employees was injured when a heavy boom fell on his head.
Apparently, the victim wasn’t satisfied with the financial compensation because he sued the company and, therefore Prince.
Rumors flew all over the courthouse that Prince would be called as a witness in the personal injury trial. Many of us gathered in the audience section of the courtroom and waited.
What would Prince be like? What would he look like? What would he do?
Courtrooms are normally formal, subdued environments. Would Prince do something wild? Sing to the judge? Dance? Would his entourage fill the courtroom, all dressed in purple?
The usual way to get to the courtroom—ride the public elevator and walk into the room—wouldn’t work for someone like Prince. He was escorted into the building at the ground level by deputy sheriffs. (For his protection and to keep crowds away) They took him up to the courtroom by way of the secure prisoner’s elevator!
I was in the courtroom when he entered alone. None of his entourage were with him. I was struck be how small he was (5’2″) because of the film and video I’d seen that made him look “larger than life.” He stepped up to the witness stand and shrank behind the microphone—which was opposite of what he did on stage. His afro was long and he wore his trademark flashy, purple jacket with a high collar. His face looked pale, almost white.
I was impressed by a number of things. His public image was so “on the edge,” sexy, and wild. In person, he spoke quietly and respectfully to all questions—even to the lawyers who badgered him. He was humble and actually looked uneasy during his public appearance for the trial.
There were no “fireworks” in the courtroom, he finished his testimony, and walked back to the prisoner’s elevator in platform shoes. He left the impression of a capable, humble, polite, and almost normal—person. In spite of his fame.