Credibility in the Courtroom

For anyone who wants to leave a lasting opinion on a jury, credibility is essential.  Credibility will ensure that the jurors will recall the witnesses’s facts when deciding the final verdict.

If a defense lawyer is going with an insanity case for the criminal, he or she will often go to great lengths to find the most credible psychologist to convince the jurors that the culprit was in fact insane.  Once the psychologist gets on the stand and proves that he or she is in fact an expert in the given topic by listing his or her degrees, jobs, and past trials he or she participated in, the jurors most likely would feel like they could trust the expert witness’s findings and facts.  After the defense lawyer has interrogated the witness, it is the prosecution’s job to disprove the expert’s credibility.

If a felon ascends the witness stand, he or she will also need credibility.  The felon’s lawyer will present the culprit in a formal suit or dress in order for the jury to believe and sympathize with him or her.  A criminal holds more credibility when he or she appears as a normal citizen, than when wearing orange scrubs and resembling a caged animal.  By displaying the criminal as an ordinary person, the jury will remember that it the criminal is not necessarily guilty and that they must weigh every fact carefully.

As Elliot Aronson explained in The Social Animal, credibility is not necessarily having high moral caliber, but simply appearing expert and trustworthy.

-Katie C.


~ by katierc on July 19, 2010.

One Response to “Credibility in the Courtroom”

  1. This is definitely true! In fact, I’ve seen defense attorneys request mistrials if the jury sees the defendant in his or her orange jumpsuit. The idea is that if the jury sees the person “looking like a criminal,” its members will think that the person has a greater propensity for criminal behavior–even though this is totally illogical, because *every* defendant who doesn’t make bail has to wear the jailhouse garb.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: