With the holidays upon us and families gathering, I thought I would post on something that relates to both normal life and relations with family or friends as well as to the courtroom. Afterall, what is a family gathering without some turmoil!
In our normal lives, we understand the concept of allowing people to feel their own emotions. When raising kids, you may have the painful realization that the more angry you get about the rebel your daughter is dating, the more she will cling to him. When fighting with a spouse, you may realize when everything calms down that you are actually more effective at getting your way when you do not scream and yell. The adage “you get more bees with honey than with vinegar” holds true, but can often be easier said than done. If you are angry toward another person, that person doesn’t have to focus on their own anger anymore because you are occupying that space. Instead they focus their emotional energy on being resentful of you or simply continuing the destructive behavior because they are blind to the consequences.
These life relationship lessons are transferable to the courtroom. If you get angry, jurors feel less need to do so themselves. They unconsciously figure that anger is checked off the list. If you yell at a witness who is lying, a justice has been served. The scales are balanced and they didn’t have to do anything for it. If you get angry toward the opposing party in your case, you take that emotion away from the jurors. They are then left with emotionless facts. It may seem counter-intuitive as people instinctively feel that to get others roused up, they need to show the same emotion. The opposite is true. Show jurors the facts that lead them to be angry, but remain calm. This makes them feel that there is still an injustice or imbalance that they need to rectify. By showing them facts and allowing them to come to emotional conclusions on their own, you leave them free to build up anger and take it out on the opposing side.
There are some exceptions to this, but very few. When in doubt, stay calm.
2 responses to “Are You Stealing Emotions Away from Jurors?”
Very significant but often misunderstood point. Thanks for putting into words so efficiently a point many trial lawyers never understand.
Jessica, very well put. We should all remember this when it comes to our interactions with the people in our lives.