It read: "Men are like dirty diapers"!
© Roland Brown 2015, 2020
While sitting in the courtroom waiting to start a jury trial in a rural county, I caught a bit of the testimony in the trial ahead of mine. What I observed reminded me of one of the challenges lawyers face in presenting a client to a jury. Trials happen quickly and, as we know, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. A young lady, trying to regain custody of her pre-teen daughter, was wearing a revealing cocktail dress which did little to create the best image of a caring mother of a pre-teen child in the minds of the jurors. The negative impression her attire created was further reinforced when the father’s lawyer, over the objection of her lawyer, made her admit that a bumper sticker on her pickup truck parked outside read “Men are like dirty diapers; they are full of sh*t and they are always on your a$$ .” Rightly or wrongly, the mother lost her bid for custody.
In one of my own trials, the defendant, an arrogant sort who had bragged to his lawyer that I’d never lay a glove on him at trial, wore an eyepopping diamond ring to trial. You can imagine that the presence of that ring flashing in the jurors’ eyes made it easier for them to award my injured client a large verdict against him and his company.
Judges and jurors look for something objective to confirm or refute the testimony presented at trial because they assume every litigant will try to put the best spin on their side of the story. Therefore, things such as certain attire, bumper stickers, jewelry, tattoos, and behavior of the parties observed by jurors in the hallway can spell the difference between winning and losing at trial. The effective trial lawyer will discuss with the client how to dress, use of appropriate language, how to react to attacks at trial, and similar things so that an otherwise winning presentation is not torpedoed by something that could be easily avoided.