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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 170772 Find in a Library
Title: Trial as Theater
Journal: Trial  Volume:33  Issue:10  Dated:(October 1997)  Pages:64-66,68-69
Author(s): M I Bernstein; L R Milstein
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 5
Type: Report (Technical Assistance)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A judge and an attorney explain the similarities and differences between trials and live theater and offer recommendations for attorneys for use before and during a trial.
Abstract: Both trials and live theater educate as they persuade by linking a series of events that appeal to human emotion. The trial attorney, like the dramatic actor, has a story to tell. The physical courtroom, similar to a live theater, provides a conducive setting for audience receptivity and identification with the properly presented story, theme, and characters. The courtroom, like an elaborate theater, is often adorned with polished oak walls and barriers. The ritual clothing of the judge and the ceremonial proceedings further enhance the uniqueness of the jury experience. Great attorneys and great playwrights educate and persuade their audiences on a human level by capitalizing on the theatrical trappings of the event. They create scenes in which ordinarily passive viewers become active participants and consciously identify with the individuals. Attorneys must be aware of the importance of both their appearance and their actions. They also need to recognize that the law is a profession that involves more than words and that television has conditioned modern jurors to expect to receive information in a visually satisfying way. Nevertheless, crucial distinctions exist between courtroom drama and live theater. In courtrooms, real lives have been affected and real people suffer the consequences of their actions. Courtroom drama is entertaining, but it is not entertainment. It is and must remain the living embodiment of community decisionmaking in a democratic society. Reference notes
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Courtroom decorum; Trial preparation
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