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News Flash! Juries convict attractive people less often.

Posted by Brian Tillman on 18 January 2011

Figured it was time to write another fluff piece. If you couldn’t detect the sarcasm in the title, it’s a News Flash! in the muppets sense. Rumor has it pretty people also get jobs you didn’t get, have drinks bought for them, and get more dates than you do (no matter what they say).

As it turns out, juries find it harder to convict people who are attractive, and give them lighter sentences when they do convict them. This is according to a study by one of those Ivy League Universities, so it’s gotta be good, right? (author’s note: Cornell is a pretty good school.) The good news is, we don’t have to spend Ivy League money to figure that one out. There’s a reason we tell our clients to wear a suit at trial, maybe get a haircut, cover the sleeve tattoos, whatever. It’s the same principle you used on your first high school date. It’s all about perceptions and first impressions.

For a defense lawyer, all we want is for the jurors to identify with our client at trial, to see the case through the eyes of the accused. It’s just harder to convict someone you identify with, know someone similar to, or even like. If the Defendant looks like your sister, then it’s hard not to think of your baby sis when you’re thinking the case over. By the same token, I would guess it’s easier to be convicted by an attractive prosecutor too.

There’s a reason the movies put pretty people in the lead roles, because even if you ain’t pretty, you still visualize yourself in the lead character’s position, opposite the hot lead co-star. There’s a reason there are always sexy girls on beer commercials and surprisingly attractive middle-aged people on Cialis and Viagra ads. You don’t really want to watch your average neighborhood 55 year olds getting all cuddly do you? Your kids even wanna be Batman, with that sculpted body suit. And the attractiveness of the villains? Who ever volunteered to be the Penguin when you were a kid? The bottom line is, peoplecan be as analytical as they want, but human nature creeps into the courtroom as it does in every aspect of life, whether it’s right or wrong. And that’s just part of the magic of jury trials.

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