The July/August 2015 issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, a publication of the State Bar of Arizona, featured an article written by Jan Mills Spaeth and Rosalind R. Greene – litigation consultants with Advanced Jury Research. They assist with jury selection, witness preparation, case strategy, and focus groups/mock trials. Their article focuses on facial hair. Specifically, when and under what circumstances facial hair on a male witness is appropriate, and what type of man may wear which type of style.
The short of it is this: attorneys from around the state of Arizona are being informed of potential biases that a prospective juror may hold towards individuals testifying under oath (or merely sitting in the courtroom), with the intent of being able to inform those individuals how they should alter their appearance to become more believable.
It is the year 2015, and in order for the truth and justice to prevail “blindly,” we need to grab a straight razor.
Shouldn’t we be demanding more out of ourselves, out of our profession, than this editorial? Rather than placing emphasis on some self-inflicted need to pander to the narrow-minded few in society over something so trivial, why not call attention to the strides we have made as a free society? Would this article have been so jovial if, based upon some statistical anomaly, it was found that humanity views a specific race to be more believable than another? Would we have featured a study that supposedly demonstrates males are “less offensive” on a witness stand than females? Would that change the manner in which our cases are presented? Would any of these findings truly affect the truth to such a degree that the end result would be different? Should it?
Better yet, are we not, by paying mind to such a trivial (and some would argue more fashionably traditional) distinction such as a beard or a mustache, fostering a climate in which facial hair, along with any other bias that may exist in society, truly does matter?
Society has had its chance to grow up. It’s time for the legal profession to do the same.
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