Source of article 2's Company - Magnus Insights.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (January 31, 2018, page A9), “The Mistakes You Make in a Meeting’s First Milliseconds,” by Sue Shellenbarger, prompted me to think about first impressions in the courtroom. And, particularly, the jurors’ first impressions of the attorneys. While the attorneys’ first impressions of jurors and witnesses, both fact and expert, are important, my first thoughts were how the jurors perceive the attorneys. As the article points out, impressions are often formed quickly, as soon as people see each other for the first time. In many situations, this occurs when a person enters a room where they are met by people whom they would like to perceive them in positive terms – the article focused on walking into a job interview. In a courtroom, it is more likely that the attorneys will already be in the courtroom awaiting the entry of the venire members, whom they need to “like them” or, at least, not dislike them. In reality, attorneys need to realize that, upon arrival at the courthouse, they are “on view” and potential jurors may see them in the parking lot, the security line, or the hallways. Impressions may be formed with any of these encounters, but most likely it will happen when the venire arrives in the courtroom and the attorneys are busy with last minute organization and preparations. As busy as the attorneys are, it is important to realize that this critical time will be sufficient for first impressions to be formed. The article reported research showing that snap judgments about others’ trustworthiness are wrong more often than people may think, yet they happen persistently. Whether from stereotypes or facial features or expressions, overall impressions are being formed. Facial features include whether a person’s mouth is turned upward, as if smiling, or downward, seemingly frowning. Other factors may be whether the person looks harried and stressed, that is, disorganized. We have seen many attorneys appearing stressed, discombobulated even, as they prepare for mock trials – scrambling at the last minute, and often in intense discussions with subordinates to get ready for a presentation. One can only imagine how this would be magnified in a courtroom where the attorneys literally operate at center stage, with all eyes on them. Attorneys must realize they are being scrutinized for cues to their honesty by those called upon to make judgments about them, and their clients. Being cognizant of this is critical to representing the client in the way that client deserves.