This paper will discuss communication techniques largely used by the attorneys. After all, who are best actors? When does communication start? The communication process begins when potential Jurors are summoned by written communication through the United States Postal System to attend court for jury selection. Each Juror is directed to the appropriate courtroom through verbal communication by court officers. Once inside the courtroom, the court clerk verbally calls out each Jurors name to complete attendance. Jurors raise their hands to acknowledge their presence.
A written questionnaire is distributed to each Juror to omelet while simultaneously viewing a video covering the history of Jury duty. Judge’s Introduction The Judge verbally introduces himself. As a form of introduction, the Judge then visually and verbally directs the Jurors’ attention towards the court clerk, the stenographer, the court officers, and the attorneys representing the plaintiff and defendant. After introducing key players in the courtroom, the Judge gives a brief overview of how Jury duty has been conducted throughout history.
Rules and procedures of the court are verbally reviewed and presented to all Jurors by the Judge. This communication process informs the Jurors what to expect and allows them to feel comfortable and at ease. Jury Selection (Over Dire) The second process of a court trial proceeding is Jury selection. Jury selection is also referred to as over dire. An attorneys goal during the over dire process is to get to know the Jury, their experiences, and any bias or prejudices which may influence their responsibility as Jurors to reach a verdict.
The attorneys other goal during this Communication in the Courtroom By stories goals to be accomplished, appropriate and effective communication skills between the attorney and Jurors are important. Questions presented by the attorney to the Jurors include, but are not limited to: age, marital status, employment history, hobbies, volunteer activities, religious beliefs, and education. The attorney must present these questions to the Jury with thoughtful and planned verbal communication. (Blackman & Brinkman, 2010) While asking these questions, words such as prejudice, bias and stereotype should be avoided. Instead, focus on more neutral words like ‘discomfort. ” (Blackman & Brinkman, 2010) This period of questioning, during the over dire process, is an important stage of communication between the attorney and the Jurors. Gender and race related prejudices are unacceptable to society; Jurors will not openly admit their prejudices. The prosecutor and defense attorney must consciously select words which will offer Jurors an opportunity to share their concerns. Carefully chosen words are demonstrated in the following expert. Blackman & Brinkman, 2010) “My client is an African American man. Sometimes people have strong feelings about certain groups of people that can get in the way of rendering a fair and impartial verdict. Or, some people may feel uncomfortable about a case in which an African American man is accused of attacking a white woman. Or, there may be other aspects of this case – having nothing to do with my client’s race or gender – that make you feel uncomfortable and that we have not already discussed. If you have any such discomfort for any reason, please raise your hand. (Blackman & Brinkman, 2010) Opening Statement Each attorneys opening statement is, again, an important part of communication with the Jury. In light of initial impressions, several members of the Jury interpret all of the evidence presented and form strong opinions after the statements. During this stage of communication, the attorneys exhibit both verbal and non-verbal immunization skills to begin persuading the Jury in their favor. The opening statement will include not only the facts of the case, but emphasis on particular words and catch phrases to capture the Jury attention and sympathy toward each attorneys case.
While the verbal language describes emotion and rationale, non verbal language is subjective, exhibited both consciously and unconsciously, and expresses emotion. Physical appearances, tone, gestures, facial expressions, and distance are all non verbal sources of communication which can modify or contradict the verbal message. Natural kinesics “conveys an emotion before we’ve expressed it in word. ” (Morgan, 2008) An attorney will pay close attention to each of the Juror’s body movements and facial expressions to ensure his communication is understood and holding the attention of all Jurors.
Another commonly used non verbal communication an attorney uses to keep the Jury attentive is Proteomics. (Withal, 2006) Proteomics refers to the “distance or space between speakers. The planned distance enhances the attorneys ability to generate Jury participation in his client’s cause. He must be able to ‘sell’ his client to the Jury. (Withal,2006) The attorney may physically move the podium to visually block the Jury’s view of the prosecutor, while simultaneously manipulating the space to provide a better visual of the defendant. Moving the while he communicates his opening statement.
This non-verbal communication modifies the attorneys words while provoking sympathy towards the defendant. An opening statement commonly used to gain a Jury’s sympathy and persuade the jury’s first impression of the case, is a story telling technique. An attorney may verbally tell a story using time, personal names, and descriptive adjectives. The following expert is an example of this technique of communication: Prosecutor: This is a case of being in wrong place at the wrong time. Maria Zone left her house at 7:00 a. M. To drive to the supermarket. She put on her seat belt and drove west on Third Avenue.
As she passed Little Peoples Day Care on her right, she slowed down. She was watching the road in front and the circle of children in the schoolyard on her right, when she heard a sudden screeching of tires and was smashed into by the defendant coming rapidly out of a side street on her left. At the end of the receptor’s opening statement, he will forewarn the Jury of the tactics opposing counsel will employ to counter-persuade the facts presented. The prosecutor will advise the Jury defense counsel will likely use specific arguments to persuade them to arriving at the scenario of the defendant.
By verbally communicating to the Jury what to expect from defendant’s counsel, the prosecutor forms a trust with the Jury. At this time, several Jurors formulate opinions as to the guilt of the defendant. Defendant’s attorney will have to work twice as hard on his opening statement to persuade the Jury – the prosecutor has Just manipulated their minds. Witnesses The goal of both attorneys is to interview witnesses to secure information on behalf of their clients, persuade the witnesses to answer questions to the advantage of their case, and to establish credibility of the witness. Grub & Homey, 2003) For an effective interview process, both attorneys must prepare, maintain control, listen, be alert, be patient and most of all be a good actor. (p. 140) Preparation includes pre-trial interviews with attorneys witnesses and review of case. In the courtroom, the prosecutor will verbally question the witness regarding the facts of the case. His one and volume of his voice should be audible to the Judge, the witness and the jury. The questions the prosecutor presents to the witness should be asked in a chronological order for the Jury to absorb.
Long winded verbal statements will derail the Jury’s understanding of the facts. The Jury will focus on the witness’s appearance, body language and speech. A witness, such as a security guard, should present himself in a clean, crisp professional uniform as well as a clean shaven appearance. While answering questions his body should not slouch but instead be upright and attentive, hands on AP, with eyes focused on the attorney or Jury. Several Jurors will see the witness as a professional incapable of giving misleading information due to rank or social standing.
The prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt through burden of evidence. In order to prove the guilt of the defendant, the prosecutor must present evidence beyond the reasonable doubt. Written communications such as affidavits, medical records and other legal documents are presented to the court to support verbal facts given by the attorney. Verbal testimony is given by witnesses to the prosecutor and witnesses to the defense attorney. The prosecutor must verbally interview his opportunity to cross examine the defense witness in order to persuade the testimony to support his case and discredit the testimony.
Effective use of tone, body language and clear and accurate statements will provide him with the effective tools to persuade. The defense attorney does not have to prove the innocence of the defendant. The defendant can choose not to testify. It is the responsibility of the defense attorney to persuade the Jury the testimony provided by the prosecutor’s witnesses and written documentation provided by the prosecutor is not sufficient evidence to prove defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Defendant’s attorney will use persuasive language, eye contact with the Jury and will, again, use techniques to gain the sympathy of the Jury towards the defendant. Closing Statement The prosecutor will verbally communicate to the Jury the evidence presented to the court. He will remind the Jury of the credibility of his witnesses as well as point out written documentation to support his case. The burden of responsibility will be laid at the feet of Jury by the prosecutor. He will tell the Jury it is their civil and dicta responsibility to see through the smoke screen presented by the defense.
The prosecutor will not have another opportunity to speak with the Jury or refute the defense attorneys closing statement and will verbally communicate this message to the Jury in hopes the Jury will close their minds to the defense attorneys closing statement. The defense attorney will verbally tear apart the evidence presented to the Jury by the prosecutor. He will try to discredit the testimony given by the prosecutor’s attorney as well as demonstrate the written documentation is not sufficient to prove the defendant’s guilt.
Eye contact by the defense attorney is shared equally with the jury and the defendant to solidify the tactic of sympathy. Just as the prosecutor laid the burden of responsibility at the Jury feet, so does the defense attorney. Such phrases as “let the little guy be the on top this time”, “show the prosecutor he hasn’t pulled the wool over your eyes”, “do what you feel is right”, and “the prosecution Just hasn’t done his Job of establishing proof beyond the reasonable doubt” are all persuasive tactics used in verbal communication.
Deliberations The Judge will verbally go over the rules and procedures the Jury should follow urine deliberations. He will recite the charges in the case and remind the Jury there must be sufficient evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond the reasonable doubt. The Judge will then appoint a Jury chairman who will be responsible for organizing the deliberations, acting as liaison between the court and the Jury, and reading the final verdict of the Jury. The leaders and the followers are quickly labeled inside the Jury deliberation room. The leaders will all begin by verbally communicating the facts presented.
The followers will listen, agreeing with opinions of the leaders. In order to arrive at a verdict, the Jury reviews photographs, written documentation and verbal testimony. In most cases, as previously stated, there will be several Jurors who have made their decision of guilt or innocence based on either the opening statements or the closing statements. The crucial Job of picking through the evidence is left with a handful of jurors to decide a verdict. Communication. Verbal communication is exhibited through the use of volume or tone as well as persuasive statements towards either side’s case.
Non verbal communication is exhibited through body language. Some Jurors may Just sit in silence indicating the desire to be a follower and to decide with the majority of the jury. Other forms of non-verbal communication exhibited by the Jury are body movements such as standing while presenting opinions, and slamming of fist on a conference table to show dance towards their point of view. In the end, the Jury comes to a verdict and proceeds back into the courtroom. Verdict At the end of deliberations, the Jury takes a vote by show of hands or paper ballot. The Jury then notifies the court officer they have come to a verdict.
The court officer sorts the Jury back into the court room to relay the verdict. The Judge will verbally recite each charge one at a time. The Jury chairman will either say guilty or not guilty. The Judge will then render the final verdict by verbally communicating each charge with each of the verdicts to follow. After the verdict is read, counsel will again communicate with the Jury through non verbal body language such as rolling of eyes in displeasure of the verdict or a positive nod of the head in agreement of the verdict. Finally, the Judge verbally thanks the Jury for conducting their civil and dicta duty in his courtroom.
Conclusion Several types of communication skills are exhibited in the courtroom during a court trial proceeding. Verbal communication is demonstrated through tone, volume, emphasis on words or phrases and through persuasive language skills. Non-verbal communication is exhibited through the use of kinesics and proteomics – both enhancing the each attorneys verbal communication. Although testimony of witnesses and exhibits are all forms of communication, the most crucial communications between the attorneys and the Jury are during over dire, the opening tenements, and closing statements.