Atticus Finch Would Not Approve: 5 Strange Ways to Control the Courtroom
Lawyers have exploited psychological principles to manipulate the courtroom for centuries. From what to say and how to say it, where to stand, what suit to wear, and so on, there are many details that can influence the jury’s perception about your client.
Some lawyers argue that these psychology-based advocacy techniques threaten to alter the jury’s capacity to evaluate evidence objectively and critically. Other lawyers, on the other had, claim that subconscious persuasion is just part of the game.
This article is not meant to discuss the ethics behind these mind tricks. Instead, it will teach you how to use them in your favor to win arguments.
Here are five tricks you can use to control the courtroom.
1. Ask Your Clients to Wear Glasses
Courtroom style refers to how a lawyer and his or her client deliver their story. Courtroom style involves everything from posture, body movement, use of language, and physical appearances.
According to numerous studies and slip and fall attorney Philadelphia, men wearing glasses are perceived as emasculated and less capable of violence. In one experiment, two fake defendants, one white, one black, were photographed with and without glasses. Over 200 jurors received one of the four pictures and were told that the person in the photo was accused of a crime. The experiment showed that adding glasses reduced the probability of a guilty verdict by 20%.
However, there’s a twist. This trick works only for violent crimes. If you client is accused of money laundering or stealing, glasses can lead to more guilty verdicts.
2. Schedule Meetings with Judges Right After Lunch
In one experiment, scientists have analyzed judges hearing parole cases over a 10-month period. They found that prisoners had about 65% chances of having the judge rule in their favor if the meeting was scheduled in the morning. Between morning and noon, on the other hand, the possibility dropped to 0% but came back up after the lunch break.
Scientists believe that the reason for the dramatic shift is a phenomenon called “decision-making fatigue.” Someone who has to make a lot of decisions will eventually get to exhaustion and instead of reaching to an intelligent conclusion, will choose the easy way out.
3. Use Rude Witnesses
It might sound counterintuitive to bring rude people in the courtroom to testify for your client. After all, rudeness is a crucial factor in determining someone’s personality. And that’s completely true. However, studies have shown that respectful witnesses are perceived as less intelligent and less credible. Rudeness, on the other hand, is seen as confidence.
4. Advise Your Clients to Talk Fast
According to scientists, people who speak fast are seen as more intelligent and confident than those that speak at a slow pace. If someone speaks slowly, there are often categorized as less competent.
So, how fast should you advise your clients to talk?
According to one study, people are perceived as more persuasive when they talk around 30% faster than normal. But, there’s no actual limit. If your client is capable, they can go even as fast as 195 words per minute.
5. Teach Your Clients to Ask for Forgiveness
Unfortunately, the jury has found your client guilty. There’s nothing left to do but ask for an appeal or go back to the office to collect your paycheck, right?
There are some things your client can do to ease their sentence: Apologize.
It’s bizarre, but the same thing that helped your client get out of grounding when they were nine can shave years of their sentence. Before the rule, teach your client to say that they are sorry (even if they previously claimed that they were innocent.)
This simple trick works because it gives the jury a chance to see that your client is a normal persona and not a monster. The body language needs to communicate as well that your client is truly sorry for their crime. They need to look sad and consumed by their actions.
The use of psychology-based advocacy techniques can help you and your clients influence the jury’s decision in your favor. Although the great Atticus Finch would never approve of these mind tricks, they have proven to help lawyers move their cases forward and win arguments.
Would you use them?