Dateline: March, 2007, Issue 6

Do jurors believe nervous witnesses?

Recent research by Boccaccini and Brodsky (2002) finds that jurors expect criminal defendants who testify to be at least a little nervous, and are most likely to believe defendants who are not too nervous.

Jurors also expected criminal defendants to look at them some of the time as well as at the attorney asking questions.

These researchers concluded that witness preparation is important for criminal defendants, that not all manifestations of nervousness should be removed by that preparation, and that criminal defendants should overcome their tendency to look only at the attorney and make eye contact with both jurors and attorneys when testifying.

Source Boccaccini, M. T. & Brodsky, S. L. (2002). Believability of expert and law witnesses: Implications for trial consultation. Professional Psychology Research and Practice, 33, 384-388.