Friday, November 30, 2007

Juries Are Only Skin Deep

One of the things I like about the Deliberations blog (don’t forget to vote in the ABA best blogs election) is how Anne Reed will take a topic seemingly unrelated to her blog’s focus on juries and show instead how that topic is essential to understand if you want to understand how juries operate and react. It’s a creative approach that makes you look forward to seeing what she comes up with next. Here’s an excellent example, taking research that shows that perceptions of attractiveness change, for good or bad, as you get to know a person better (my wife has finally gotten to where she thinks I’m halfway attractive!!!). Okay, so what does that have to do with juries, you say.

Does this have anything to do with juries? Absolutely. Like it or not, physical beauty matters to jurors, as a British study in March most recently showed. Back then I got to spend one long post on the study itself and another one on what to make of it. One thing I said was "Remember 'more than skin deep.' . . . If you have a witness you think may be stereotyped because of the way he looks, there are ways to let the jury see the beauty of his character." I didn't have a study to cite when I said it, but there is one now.

See what I mean?

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