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Obtaining criminal defense victory through conveying persuasive feelings

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A key part of criminal defense victory is for the lawyer to be convinced that the client should be acquitted, to feel that in the lawyer’s heart, guts and bones, and to persuasively convey those feelings to the judge and jury.

Look no further about the power of feelings than the music that makes you dance for joy when previously feeling in a day-long slump, and the music that makes you run for the hills. For me, music that makes me joyous includes a slew of tunes performed by Chick Corea, John Coltrane and Woody Shaw. The music that makes me run for the hills are songs sung by Phil Collins, as much as many others love his work.

If the lawyer does not internalize and feel victory, then why should the judge or jury want to help the lawyer or criminal defendant any more than the lawyer wants to help? They are not invested in the case as much as the criminal defense lawyer should be, so should not be expected to work any harder than the defense lawyer.

Feelings are a significant part of persuasion not out of anything touchy-feely, not out of any incantations nor manipulation, but because if the judge and jury feel sympathetic to the criminal defendant or his or her lawyer — or at least not revolted by them both — or key aspects of the case, their hearts and minds are more open to put the full time, effort, and ability into reaching the right decision.  If the judge or jury feel lousy, scared, nervous or nauseous, their hearts and minds are more likely to close up, in order for them to focus on protecting their own mental and physical health and feelings of well being, acting as blockages to their having the sufficient information and mindset to reach the right result.

How can a jury feel inclined to reach the right result for a criminal defendant who is not sympathetic and has allegedly committed a gruesome murder, where the trial judge allows the prosecutor to show the juror the most gruesome photos of the homicide victim’s bullet-riddled body? At minimum, if the judge and jury cannot feel sympathetic to the presumed-innocent defendant, they can feel sympathetic and even positively disposed towards the defendant’s lawyer. And the criminal defense lawyer must humanize his or her client, to at least remind the jury that the defendant has a beating heart.

Lawyer Judy Clark is an example of a lawyer who is likely widely liked and even loved by jurors even when defending people charged with some of the most heinous crimes. Except for the death sentence recommended by the jury against her client Dzokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston marathon bombing trial, Judy has repeatedly convinced jurors to spare her capital murder clients from a death sentence.

Some key elements of bringing the jury to a favorable feeling zone include; The criminal defense lawyer should achieve the state of high vibration and emptiness of as much internal gunk as possible; the lawyer should be fully prepared so that the judge and jury does not feel the lawyer is wasting their time or not helping to save their time; the lawyer should be fully focused on the mental and physical comfort of the judge and jury; and the lawyer should have trust that the judge and jury have the capacity to do the right thing. The lawyer must be real at all times, not a thespian in someone else’s character.

Feelings are important as a basis for persuasion. Just as a house cannot be built without first laying the foundation, feelings are the foundation upon which the criminal defense lawyer presents arguments and evidence.

Feelings are so important that so very often people remember much better how a person made them feel than what the person said. (This concept, often quoted with attribution to Maya Angelou, apparently was earlier stated by Carl W. Buehner).

Of course, feelings by themselves will not carry the day for the criminal defense. That requires full preparation, experience, ability, and devotion to the criminal defendant and to victory. This, after all, is war.

Fairfax, Northern Virginia criminal lawyer Jon Katz has successfully defended thousands of clients since 1991. To discuss your case in confidence, please call his staff at 703-383-1100.