Where to Sit in the Courtroom

Question: This may seem like a frivolous questions, but I ask it in complete seriousness. Is there a subliminal advantage in sitting on one side of the courtroom as opposed to the other? I wonder about such unconscious preferences, not only on the basis of personal legal experiences, but also from viewing countless televised trials, such as Perry Mason, Law & Order, the O.J. Show, etc., in which the judge’s right side wins over the sinister side.

Answer:

Your question is not frivolous to a trial attorney. There are many subliminal advantages which can be taken in a trial courtroom, although I am unaware of any advantage of the right side over the left side.

Which side of the courtroom I sit on depends upon the layout of the courtroom. In one recent trial, the tables were arranged in such a fashion that one attorney would have his back to the jury. I arrived early each day to make sure that I did not get that seat. Always face the jury and never keep your back to them. People trust you more if you look at them. Body language is very important at trial.

If you are allowed to walk around the courtroom, the trial attorney should stand by the jury when asking questions of a favorable witness. The witness will look at the attorney who is asking questions and will, therefore, be facing the jury. This gives more credibility to the witness.

There have been many articles and books written on what clothing an attorney should wear. I grew up on the theory that the first day of trial the attorney should wear the serious navy blue suit. Each day thereafter, the color of suit should get lighter (blues and grays) and add patterns (stripes or plaids) to convey the impression of encouragement and feeling good about the case, which will be adopted by the jury. Of course, this only works with the typical trial which lasts a week or less.

These are but a sample of the nuances that a good trial attorney will employ in order to win a case. A jury is unpredictable and a good attorney must take advantage of every subliminal opportunity.

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