Monday, June 1, 2015

A Mind-Boggling Social Experiment Proves the Importance of First Impressions

If you ever wondered just how important the jurors’ first impressions of your client and witnesses are, here’s a mind-boggling social experiment, posted on youtube.

It shows people walking right past well-known and loved family members, not recognizing a single one of them, when the family members were dressed as homeless individuals, sitting as homeless often do, on the sidewalk by a building.

Now, if dress and body posture can fool a daughter into not recognizing her mother, parents into not recognizing their own children, imagine how critical the attire and body language of your client and witnesses are. The jurors can easily be misled as to the credibility and sincerity of your witnesses, strangers as they all are, at the beginning of trial.

A neurosurgeon, for example, who wore a black shirt under his expensive dark suit, was labeled “Mafia Doc” by the jurors, when nothing could have been farther from the truth. A handsome thirty year old CPA, who persisted in running his hand through his stylish somewhat long locks, was dubbed “Player” by the jurors, and his testimony deemed suspect: “Nobody who looks like that could ever be serious.”

First impressions matter. From the moment your client/witness steps into the courtroom, all juror eyes are upon him or her. And jurors judge everything they see according to stereotyped definitions which unfortunately hold great power. Even as the trial unfolds, failure to attend to your witnesses’ self-presentation can mar otherwise competent testimony.