By Sybil Cummin, MA, LPC, ACS
1. Taking Control of the Timeline of the Case
If your client is hesitant or fearful to testify, their abuser knows it. How can the abuser use this to their advantage? They can use different tactics to continue the case. Some of these cases take over a year for the jury trial to occur, forcing your client to show up to court each time, experiencing all of the anxiety that occurs with this, only to find out that the case will be continued for another 6-8 weeks. This can happen numerous times for numerous reasons. This also effects other potential witnesses.
2. Using Public Perception of Domestic Violence
Because there is still a lack of true understanding of domestic violence in our culture, the defense will use this to their advantage. If your client is a female, they will use one or more of these depictions to sway the jury. And the saddest part...it works.
3. Wearing a Mask and Feigning Remorse
The jury is not only listening to the evidence. They are also watching the behaviors of the defendant in the court room. You can bet that the defense team will have coached their client on how to appear in the court room. This goes from how they dress to how they react during testimony. It can be frustrating for your client that their abuser can look meek or remorseful.
4. Being a Bulldog While Your Client Takes the Stand
In line with the goal of using public perception to sway the jury, the defense will take it a step further and try to use power and control techniques while your client is on the stand. The goal is to make your client look crazy, look like they are lying, and look like the things mentioned in strategy number 2 above. They will use questions that have no relation to the case to confuse your client and distract the jury. Anything to bring out the effects of the trauma they have experienced.