Courtroom Demeanor: The Theater of the Courtroom

57 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2007

Abstract

The American criminal courtroom is a theater where courtroom actors play out the guilt or innocence of the defendant for the jury to assess. Although one view of the courtroom is that of a controlled atmosphere where cases are decided based only on formal evidence, this view is undoubtedly unrealistic. Trials are affected by many factors, including the appearance and demeanor of the defendant. This article proposes an approach to deal with non-testifying demeanor evidence that occurs outside the witness box. Given the problems with having jurors rely on demeanor evidence, courts should be carefully monitoring the use of non-testifying demeanor evidence. Appropriate jury instructions should be given, including those warning jurors on proper use of such evidence.

Suggested Citation

Levenson, Laurie L., Courtroom Demeanor: The Theater of the Courtroom. Minnesota Law Review, Forthcoming, Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2007-30, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=999471

Laurie L. Levenson (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
(213) 736-1149 (Phone)
(213) 380-3769 (Fax)

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