Can Jurors Trust Trial Attorneys?

Article excerpt

The public is not necessarily wrong to think that attorneys attempt to deceive jurors in trials, maintains Steve Easton, associate professor of law, University of Missouri-Columbia. "The conviction that jurors can not believe what lawyers say is both common and strong. In a recent study, 62% of potential jurors believed it was very likely that an attorney would lie to them. They are often right. Many trial attorneys believe it is their duty to represent their clients zealously by being aggressive, fervent, ruthless, and, if necessary, tricky and deceitful. This belief causes them to stretch their otherwise strong points beyond believability, vigorously object to every item of evidence that might hurt them, and fight about every issue, no matter how trivial. When jurors see an attorney pursuing this `win at any cost' strategy, they correctly assume the attorney will not let the truth stand in the way of victory."

He argues that lawyers can overcome this stereotype, but that it requires conscientious, dedicated effort. "If you can establish that you are the one attorney in the room who should be trusted, it follows that your opponent can not be trusted. If the jurors believe in you, you will win almost every time, even if the emotional appeal of the case favors your opponent. Everything you do during trial, then, needs to be done to establish that you are worthy of the trust of a group of people who initially believe that they dare not trust you. …