Mean Girls in the Courtroom?

 Posted on January 17, 2008 in Uncategorized

Here I mentioned "the usual older-female-prosecutor head games" that Kelly Siegler unsuccessfully employed against me in a two-kilo cocaine trial. Robert Guest commented, inquiring:

What are older female prosecutor head games? Like the jedi mind trick?

Not exactly.

"Older-female-prosecutor head games" are attempts by older female prosecutors to throw

This is usually done either with offhand remarks ("of course you know that..."), helpful advice ("if I were you, I would... ) or friendly questions ("are you sure you want to...?").

The idea is to raise the adversary's self-doubt. It's generally much more efficient (and more fun) to convince your adversary to defeat himself than it is to try to defeat him. In the courtroom, if the adversary can't be persuaded to defeat himself, trying to defeat him is not foreclosed as an option.

I suspect that the head games often work, because if they didn't work people probably wouldn't keep trying them. Trial lawyers are mostly very insecure despite (or as revealed by) their bluster. Many of us are trying desperately, without realizing it, to please our mommies and daddies. (How do I know this? It's like being the sucker in the poker game: if you don't see it, you're probably doing it.) These head games, I suspect, play on their victims' desire for mommy's approval.

I wonder about four things (maybe my readers can advise me):

• First, what is the cutoff for "older" female defense lawyers? I haven't observed these tactics from lawyers my age or younger, but from some only a little older than me (when I say "older" I don't mean it as a euphemism for "old").

• Second, do older female defense lawyers play the same games with prosecutors? I expect that they do.

• Third, do older female lawyers play the same games with younger female lawyers? I haven't investigated, but I suspect so.

• And fourth, do older male lawyers play the same games? Generally, I think not. Men and women are fundamentally different. They think differently, they communicate differently, they try cases differently, and they fight differently (also, they bully differently, which I think might be the best analogy for differing styles of courtroom gamesmanship).

We of the weaker sex have a lot to learn from women. While a male lawyer beats his chest, trying to convince his adversary that he is the best, his female adversary is quietly and gently trying to raise his self doubt and make him question whether he's any good at all. The man's tactics are risible to anyone who can see what is going on (and, generally, anyone who is not trying to beat his own chest can see what is going on). The woman's tactics are no less laughable to anyone who can see what is going on, but recognizing them requires a greater measure of objectivity and self-awareness.

(You were expecting what, political correctness???)

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