Should Defendants Almost Desensitize Themselves In Order To Refrain From Detrimental Behaviors Or Facial Expressions During Trial?
The defendant needs to act like a human being. When it comes to sex offenses, jurors expect the defendant to be offended, and if they’re not, then that could create a problem. If something moves the defendant to tears, then they should cry. If something is funny, then it’s funny, and it’s okay to laugh.
In one case, my client’s wife was asked whether she and her husband (my client) hit it off the first time they met, and her response was, “No, actually I thought he was gay,” and the entire courtroom burst into laughter, including myself. My client laughed too, because it was funny. While some people might think it’s inappropriate to laugh while testifying at trial, if something is funny then it is funny. If the jurors are laughing at something, they are not going to punish the defendant for laughing too, because they expect the defendant to act like a human being.
A large percentage of communication is nonverbal, in the form of body language, tone of voice, eye contact, etc. You cannot remove a natural part of communication from a client and expect the client to have the same level of connection with the jury.
However, it is important to eliminate righteous indignation; jurors hate it, and they hate it because it makes the defendant look and sound guilty. When asked whether they sexually assaulted their daughter, the defendant can’t respond with, “How dare you ask me that?” because that isn’t even an answer to the question, and the first thing the jurors are going to notice is that the defendant didn’t even deny it. The defendant needs to respond by simply saying “No.” Righteous indignation gets in the way of true communication between the client and jurors, and it needs to be eliminated.
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