Imagine you are on trial for murder. Your defense attorney tells you that in order to give you the best possible chance at freedom, he will eat at the same restaurant, sit in the same seat and order the same meal every day until the trial is over. You might think you're doomed.
These strange practices quite common, actually. There was an article in the New York Times recently about the superstitions of trial attorneys. Some wear the same tie throughout a trial, or use the same pen, or only use a certain courthouse door. My favorite is the attorney who makes sure to work the name of his dog into his argument. These guys aren't quacks; they're just covering all the bases. Many would probably admit that it's a little crazy, but they won't stop their rituals, because - what if?
Of course, these attorneys are putting real work into these cases too (hopefully). If you end up involved in a trial, here are some "real" things you can do to give yourself the best chance of success:
- Show up to court. This may seem obvious, but no matter what the reason for your court date, don't skip it. You could lose your case automatically, or there could be a warrant for your arrest. And at the very least - although still serious - you will annoy the judge.
- Respect the judge. The judge has considerable power, obviously. Be on your best behavior.
- Dress nicely. If you look shabby, you'll give a bad first impression - to the judge and especially to a jury. Even though these people are supposed to be neutral and not take such things into account, it's hard to get a first impression out of your head.
- Be clear and concise. If you have to give testimony, speak clearly, and don't ramble on. Your attorney should prepare you for testimony. One thing they will emphasize is to only answer the question that's asked.
- Be honest. You don't have to offer extra information. And if you don't understand the question or don't know the answer, you should say so. But when you do speak, be honest. Lies have a way of coming out.
And just to be safe, you might want to avoid walking under a ladder or stepping on a crack. It can't hurt.
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