Should your criminal client wear glases to court?

The New York Daily News reports that juries are less likely to convict a Defendant who is wearing glasses.

“Accused felons hoping to beat the rap are increasingly using the “nerd defense” – wearing glasses at trial to come off as less menacing to the jury.

Defense lawyers swear by the gimmick, believing the right spectacles can make a sinister-looking murder suspect seem like a perfect gentleman.

“Glasses soften their appearance so that they don’t look capable of committing a violent crime,” said veteran lawyer Harvey Slovis, who coaches clients on what to wear in court.”

The article also included references to well-known accused murderers who wore glasses and escaped conviction. Among those was Thomas Cordero, a housekeeper hired to work in the buff. A Bronx jury acquitted him last month of the stabbing death of John Conley despite overwhelming evidence. Cordero sported bifocals throughout his trial, but ditched them the moment he was free.

His lawyer, Joyce David, said she did not advise him to wear glasses in court but acknowledged it has a benefit.

“A lot of things are conveyed by eyeglasses. They look more intellectual or like someone who goes to school,” she said. “I advise clients to dress like they’re going to church or to visit their grandmother.”

Research has shown glasses generally go a long way with jurors. A 2008 study found specs led to more acquittals.

“We found that eyeglasses tended to make the defendant look more intelligent and less physically threatening to jurors,” said Michael Brown, the SUNY Oneonta psychology professor who conducted the study. “It’s the whole idea of presenting yourself as intelligent and a little emasculated.”

Jurors say the ruse works.

“I don’t think of someone with glasses as being a psycho killer,” said one potential juror in an upcoming murder trial. “I’d wear them too if I was in their shoes.”

To read the full New York Daily News article, follow this link. You might also be intersted in this blog post at the ABA Journal.