Psychology and Law: An Empirical Perspective

By Neil Brewer; Kipling D. Williams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
Trial Strategy and Tactics

KIPLING D. WILLIAMS

ANDREW JONES


INTRODUCTION AND ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

In this chapter we consider some means by which lawyers might attempt to influence those persons who sit in judgment in a trial. That being the case, it is important that we consider how this knowledge should be used. Being a psychologist brings with it many important responsibilities, and when practicing as a psychologist, ethical issues frequently arise. It is not the intention of this chapter simply to give advice that equips lawyers with a "bag of tricks" with which to manipulate the outcome of trials. Whereas some tactics discussed are legitimate, in that they represent the most effective way to present a case, others, such as unjustifiably impeaching the credibility of an opponent's experts, could be viewed as unethical. It would be wrong, however, not to include discussion of such tactics, because they may be employed by one's opponents and may therefore need to be countered or brought to the attention of the judge or jury. It should also be kept in mind that the first duty of lawyers is to assist the court; if their duty to the court and their duty to their clients come into conflict, the former takes precedence. This hierarchy makes sense: Above all, the community wants the courts to make rulings that are just and fair. So the ethical imperatives of the two professions should be in harmony; both lawyers and psychologists should assist their clients to the best of their abilities (in the case of the psychologist, the lawyer is the client), but both groups should not behave in a way that compromises functions of the court, taints the reputation of their professions, or undermines justice or the interests of the community.

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