I read an interesting blog the other day from the Wall Street Journal titled “What Your Face Looks Like Could be a Matter of Life and Death.” The blog covers a recent study conducted on the relationship between “facial trustworthiness” and criminal sentencing and is published in Psychological Science. The study found that there was an association between sentencing biases and facial trustworthiness. I found this study extremely interesting because it shows how the “look” of a person can be a main factor in sentencing without anyone realizing it.
This study can translate over to the civil realm as well. The trustworthiness of a person is not merely a factor in criminal cases. Juries everyday are making decisions in both criminal and civil court. The fact is, juries can be swayed by more than just what is presented to them by attorneys. Having the option to be tried by a jury of our peers is one of the great things about America. It’s something our country was built on because it’s important to have access to the civil justice system. But even with this opportunity to have decisions made by our peers, we still have many obstacles to overcome during a trial when it comes to jury views.
When dealing with a jury you always risk having people who don’t want to be there. I hear it all the time the groans from people who have to attend jury duty. This is disheartening, not just as an attorney presenting a case, but also because as an attorney I truly believe in our civil justice system. As such, it rests on the citizens of this nation, and their attendance as a potential juror. Additionally, there’s the stereotype that in civil cases the plaintiff is greedy, and probably their lawyer too. Therefore, a potential juror can come in already distrustful of a plaintiff, or the defendant dependent upon the case and their beliefs. On top of that, we have to face whether a plaintiff or defendant’s demeanor and look also makes them look distrustful. The civil justice system can be tricky, but it is also a wonderful process and is part of the foundation our country is built on.
Navigating the legal arena without an attorney can be difficult. Jurors can often place emphasis on little details and biases; therefore, it’s extremely important to have an experienced attorney on your side. Navigating jury biases is an extra issue within a case. By ensuring that you have the best representation, you can ensure that you have a well prepared case, and thus hopefully, things like “facial trustworthiness” are not what a jury ends up relying on when deciding your case. Here at McDivitt Law Firm we strive to provide our clients the best representation not only during a trial, but in every aspect so that they can focus on recovering from their injuries.