Although we often hear that we shouldn't 'judge a book by its cover,' we all do. Judges and juries do as well. Your credibility will be influenced by your appearance. As unfair as it may seem, you really do have to care about what you wear and how you carry yourself. Your knowledge and the weight of your testimony will mean little if you do not appear to be credible. Let's look at a few aspects of your courtroom appearance.
First and foremost, dress appropriately. Wear clothes that you would wear to a conservative office. For men, wear a suit. Darker colors (such as blue, black, and dark green) tend to exude confidence and authority. Although you may make a fashion statement with more vibrant colors, conservative colors create an aura of credibility. For women, a business suit or dress will give the court the impression that you can be taken seriously.
Even though you may work in jeans and a T-shirt, you would never wear them to court. The way you dress gives the judge and jury an impression of how trustworthy you are. When you walk into the courtroom, you will be judged by the clothes you wear. Remember that we're not talking about fairness here-we're talking about making the most of your courtroom appearance. Regardless how you may dress the rest of the time, always dress to impress the court. It will serve you well.
When choosing your clothing for a court appearance, don't overdo it. Keep jewelry (for women) to a minimum, and wear only tasteful pieces. Men should avoid jewelry as much as possible. A dozen gold necklaces do little to enhance your testimony. All in all, dress conservatively.
Grooming is as important as clothing. Your clothes should be pressed and clean. Your physical appearance should match your crisp, clean clothes. Don't show up to court looking disheveled. You are going to testify that you seized evidence, or accepted seized evidence, and handled it in a responsible manner. Responsible people comb their hair. If you are disheveled, you will have a difficult time convincing a jury that you are responsible.
Men, a 5-o'clock shadow gives the impression that you are sloppy . It doesn't matter if you rarely shave before going to the lab; in court, you must impress a judge and jury. Your job is to present yourself as credible and responsible. The way in which you present yourself says a lot about your ability to be responsible.
When you take the stand, remember that the judge and jury are watching and listening to you. Getting them on your side is imperative. A poor attitude can hurt your testimony. It can actually turn the jury against you. When you alienate someone, you make it very difficult for them to believe you.
While you are testifying, be aware of your attitude. The jury will read your emotions and your body language . They will watch you to decide if you are being sincere. Look at the judge and jury as you speak. Ignoring the jury may appear as if you are being untruthful. Watch your body language as well. When you cross your arms, you become 'closed off' and unapproachable. This action gives many people a feeling of inferiority, which is not the best way to convince a jury.
Communication using body movements, gestures, and facial expressions.
Avoid being sarcastic or overly confident. Such attitudes tend to alienate jurors. You must strive to be sincere, but not overly confident. Avoid common phrases such as:
Other colloquial sayings
As you deliver your testimony, be willing to help the judge and jury under- stand what you are saying. You are as much a teacher as a witness . Avoid being rude or condescending; instead, be as helpful and respectful as possible. Remember that you are the expert who is trying to present evidence in layman's terms to make it understandable. Let's look at how you can get the message across to make your evidence understandable.