Conduct In Court Counts

Conduct In Court Counts

By F. Clay Merris, Esq.

In an ideal world, judges and juries would base their decisions entirely on the evidence presented to them. In the real world, though, one’s appearance and conduct in court goes into the decision-making process.

I have personally observed obvious, and sometimes humorous, blunders in the courtroom including individuals charged with Driving Under the Influence appearing in Court wearing a beer shirt. There are, however, also more subtle things that could sway a judge’s or jury’s perception of a defendant or witness. If nothing else, being well-groomed and well-dressed lets the judge and jury know that the accused individual takes the situation seriously, which can go a long way. It is also important to be mindful, at all times, of one’s behavior in the courtroom. When charged with a serious crime, it is best not to be seen smiling or laughing during the trial. Even if something funny that is completely unrelated to the court appearance occurs, it is imperative that the judge or jury not think an accused individual finds the proceedings to be a mere laughing matter.

It is also ill-advised for a defendant to act outwardly angry during a trial. Even if they are certain a witness is testifying falsely to their detriment, outward anger will be seen and felt by the judge or jury and not help the case. While it is acceptable to react in some way, such as perhaps shaking one’s head lightly and leaning over to advise one’s attorney of the untruthfulness of the testimony, too much reaction never helps.

Juries are instructed that they can use their common sense to observe and determine, from a witness’s behavior on the stand, whether the witness is testifying credibly. This instruction means that juries are permitted, to some degree, to make judgments based on a witness’s appearance in terms of how they carry themselves in court. Judges are permitted to use the same tools to analyze witnesses.

This may not be a perfect system, but it is the reality of criminal court and, if you are charged with a crime, it is important that you consult with an attorney and give serious thought and consideration to the type of image you want to present to a judge or jury that will be deciding your fate.

Our attorneys at Scaringi Law are prepared to help guide you through your court trial. Call us at 717 775 7195.



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