In the political world, character has been a subject of considerable interest over the past year. In the trial world, this is nothing new. An attorney’s character is always a subject of interest to jurors. The more you exhibit sound moral character, the more favor you are likely to find with the jurors.
Behaviors that are characteristically interpreted as evidence of sound moral character include the following:
1. Be professional toward opposing counsel. Don’t stoop to snide references about the way the opposing side is presenting its case or avoid making other editorial comments. Treat opposing counsel the way you would want to be treated, with good gamesmanship and fairness. You can demolish opposing counsel’s points and maintain a moral stance; just don’t demolish opposing counsel.
2. Be respectful of the judge at all times, whether you agree or disagree with the judge’s rulings and decisions. Keep in mind that jurors consider the judge as the final arbiter of what is moral and just in the courtroom. Don’t whine or indulge in petty behavior; arguing for the sake of arguing, for example. Even when you are engaged in a sidebar, the jurors are watching. Keep your tone and body language toward the judge respectful throughout the proceedings.
3. Be courteous to the bailiff, court reporter and other courtroom personnel. No matter how tired, annoyed or frustrated you become during trial, be polite to those around you. Moral and upstanding individuals are expected to behave “better” than the rest of us in trying situations.
Character matters. When you display sound moral character, jurors are more likely to agree with your interpretation of the facts.