need to have a basic understanding of how your case begins, proceeds and ends inside the criminal court process. You
may feel confused, like an outsider on your own case. You have so many questions and no place to turn for answers.
That is, not until now. The author is a seasoned criminal defense lawyer who has written this article from his vast
experience to guide you while you are trying to win your case by modulating your courtroom demeanor for ultimate
The word demeanor is a word that isn't used as much today as
it was in years gone by. Whenever we see a word that isn't used often we can react in one of two ways. We can
unwisely disregard it, or we can try to understand its meaning in order to apply it to our lives for our best success.
If we look the word up in the Dictionary, we see that demeanor is defined as "outward behavior;
conduct; deportment; and manner." Why would courtroom demeanor have any affect on the outcome of my case?
Are my inner thoughts and beliefs causing me to act or behave in a way that is hurtful to me? Does the way that
I act, look and behave cause other people to treat me negatively? Do I really want to win my case? Let's talk
At War with the Police, Prosecution and the Court?
years of interviewing defendants who have been facing serious criminal charges, one common thread that seems to run through
these cases is that defendants often feel as though they are at war with the police. At some juncture in their lives
the model of the policeman as friend switched to the policeman as enemy. The role of the police never actually
changed. In 1840, 1920 and 2010 the role of police is the same: to stop crime and arrest suspects. What did change
was the defendant's perception of the role of the police.
The defendant adopted lifestyle behavior that
placed him in the spotlight as a suspect of whatever crime was reported and in the process of being investigated. He
was in the wrong place, with the wrong people at the wrong time.
Very often defendants in a Court case also feel that
they are at war with the prosecutor. They are convinced that the State is taking the case personally against them.
In this regard, defendants are generally mistaken and have the wrong perspective. Their errant thinking pits the State
against themselves in some kind of a personal battle. While this is very real within the defendant's mind, it has no
significance in real life.
Defendants also feel that Judges and Courts are at odds with them on a personal level.
They certainly must be "out to get me." These innermost feelings give most defendants a wrong perspective on the
trial process and on the criminal justice system. Without the advice of competent counsel, defendants generally get
off on the wrong track as they try to navigate through the trial process.
The Real Role
of the Police, Prosecution and the Court
Actually, police are under a legal duty to arrest persons whenever
there is probable cause to believe that they might have committed a crime. The police cannot turn a blind eye.
They cannot walk away and forget about the incident. Being under a legal duty means that police are not permitted
to back down but they must arrest the suspect. They are required to get the suspect under control, taken to jail and
booked for the crime that is charged.
The prosecutor's job is to prove beyond reasonable doubt the State's
case using witness testimony and real or physical evidence. Crimes are broken down into the elements of the crime.
Each element must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecutor's focus is on meeting the State's burden
The Judge's job is to provide a fair and honest forum for the trial of the charges. The Judge rules
on the admissibility of the evidence while the jury decides credibility, reliability and believability
of the evidence. Is the witness trying to testify to what he heard someone else say? That is an argument that
only the Judge can decide. Was the witness lying? That is an argument that must be directed to the Jury rather
than the Judge.
The American Dream allows us to change our Demeanor
arrested, the defendant often enters the Court process overcome by embarrassment, frustration and anger. If left unchecked,
these emotions will continue to fester until they destroy that person. Rather than being overcome by embarrassment,
frustration and anger, the defendant needs to understand what is actually
taking place inside the Courtroom in order to be able to adequately cope with the process.
There is an old adage that
says: "If you want your life to change, you have to change!" When a person is charged with a crime what he/she
must do is to take a good look at their life and their behavior. What are your innermost feelings about life and the
interaction with others? When a person becomes an accused in the criminal justice system, their life, behavior and beliefs
may need to radically change. If that is so, then the only thing that can bring about that change is the person themselves.
Maybe it is time for a renewal. Perhaps it is time to stop and start: to stop the old behavior
and start over again. People in this country are always permitted to start over again or turn over a new sheet of
paper on which to write the rest of their life. That incredible miraculous ability is called the American
Dream. In order to win at trial, you may need to remake yourself.
Judges in the Criminal Division
of the Courts often have 150 cases on their docket in the morning. A few of those cases will get mercy, a second chance
to help the defendant get back on track. A few of those cases will get the Court's wrath for the horrid acts they committed
without any remorse. Most of the cases get the average treatment. The goal is to be the case today that receives
special treatment and the Judge's full favor.
Dressing for Court is Dressing for Success
your numerous Court hearings, observe how others come to Court. You will see the lawyers who have well groomed hair,
a dark suit, white shirt, necktie and shined shoes. They stand up when addressed by the Judge. They speak politely,
firmly, clearly and with fine language. That is actually the best model for you to follow, if you want to be accepted
well by the Court who holds the power over your future. There is a time and place for the casual look, but that is simply
not acceptable in Court!
- Dress conservatively
in clean business attire;
- Get a fresh haircut for Court;
- Stand up and speak clearly and intelligently in response
to the Judge's questions;
- Say "Yes, your Honor" or "No, your Honor;"
- Be respectful--Be
- Be attentive and ready for your case to be called;
- Definitely turn off your cell phone
and any other electronics;
- Be on your best behavior at all times...you don't know who is watching you;
notes of questions or comments you have for your attorney
- Don't sleep in Court!
- Don't disrupt the proceedings by talking or laughing out loud!
read a newspaper!
- Don't make faces or gestures toward the Jury!
- Don't slouch in your chair!
these suggestions will pay big dividends for the outcome of your case. This is your case. It is not your lawyer's
case or your relative's case or the person paying for your defense's case. It is your case and yours alone. You
will either give yourself every opportunity to be victorious, or you will lose and head to a place that you wish you didn't
have to spend time in. The choice is yours. Grow up, stand up and make the right choices to achieve victory through
proper Courtroom Demeanor.
For more helpful information on success strategies
for a person charged with a crime, contact
Ira Still, Esquire
Info Blog: http://istilldefendliberty.blogspot.com/
Ira Still has been a criminal defense trial lawyer in Florida for over 30 years. He successfully represents his
clients on all crimes and in all courts. Ira has had many, many jury trials and is well known in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale
as a very successful trial and appellate lawyer. He has argued death penalty collateral appeals in the Florida Supreme Court
and in various District Courts of Appeal. He has filed briefs in the United States Supreme Court. Ira has tried
high profile cases such as police shooting the wrong person; persons charged with shooting police; capital murder and capital
sexual battery; multiple homicides, violent crimes; drug trafficking; and virtually every other criminal charge. Ira
is also an author, speaker, teacher, mentor and coach.
© 2009. The Law Offices of Ira Still