Could a case really be determined by the jury’s body language? Studies show that during interpersonal communication, 93% is non-verbally transmitted making a strong case that body language can in fact determine the outcome of a trial.
Recently I received a jury summons in the mail and showed up downtown assuming I would be dismissed after day 2. I was wrong. I was selected to be on a case. The lawyers noted that the case could last as long as 7 days. Yikes, this was going to be a very long week!
During the jury selection process you have a ton of time to do nothing. Yes you can work on your laptop (they do have wireless) but it’s not the ideal venue to set up a workstation. For me, it was difficult to concentrate so instead I just scanned the room participating in my favorite pastime, people watching! I know we live in a more casual society today but my fellow jurors took “casual” to a whole new level. One woman wore what I think was her pajama bottoms, another had low rise jeans paired with a very short top which exposed her belly button ring and a number of men wore tracksuits! I understand that the first day of jury duty is spent sitting around in somewhat uncomfortable chairs but we are not at home folks! Other people see you and interact with you and to be honest, I’m not comfortable speaking with someone I don’t know in his/her pajamas. I have always stated that it is essential to present your best self in all life’s endeavors and yes that does include jury duty.
As I stated earlier, I was indeed selected for a case and told to show up in court promptly the next morning. After the horror settled in that I would now have to work through the evening to get my “paid” work done, I was somewhat eager to participate in a trial since I had never done so before. Although this was a civil case vs. a criminal case and not as exciting, it did prove to be an interesting experience.
After day two, the case was not going well for the plaintiff at all. Her lawyer was inept and the case began to take on somewhat of a comedy act. I could not imagine 5 more days of this scenario. However, after lunch on Day 3 we were brought back to the court room and told the case was just settled! The judge explained why this is done and inferred that body language is often factored into the decision. She furthered noted that the lawyers watch to see how we react to certain evidence, witnesses or even the lawyer. I thought this was fascinating as I coach clients on body language and how important it is when interacting with people personally and professionally.
The judge did not get into the specifics of our body language and what the lawyers did take into account but I can only surmise that it could have been one or a combination of the following:
Defensive and rejection postures include:
- folded arms (lots of folded arms)
- crossed legs (many of my fellow jurors including myself had our legs crossed)
- body turned away from speaker (in this case it was the plaintiff’s lawyer)
Incredulity or amazement postures include:
- rolling eyes (amazed at how inept the plaintiff’s lawyer was)