Can appearances influence a judge?
I was in court for two days, Wednesday and Thursday, only as an observer, with my son, Chris, who is fighting for primary custody of his 2 year old daughter. (He has her about 58% of the time.)
My son dressed as nicely as I’ve ever seen him. Black slacks, a neat button down shirt. Could have thrown a tie on him and it would have completed the image of a total professional (except for the fact that he cut his hair short and shaved and looked like he was a 6’4”, skinny 12 year old instead of a 26 year old!)
I put some thought into my dress too. Granted I wore jeans, but I wore very nicely tailored shirts and nice sandals Full hair and make up.
His ex, Chelsy, dressed OK, but she had 2 friends with her (neither of whom testified) and to a person they were slovenly. One wore a torn and dirty football jersey, pajama bottoms and slippers (Oh Lord!) The other was also sloppily dressed, didn’t look like she’d even combed her hair, was wearing crocs, AND she chewed gum the entire time. The gum kept protruding from her mouth like she was trying to blow bubbles, but it wasn’t bubble gum
During breaks my son and his attorney and I had whispered conversations. Their side was loud and laughed often.
Our argument ran that Chelsy seems to be on permanent welfare (she has two other children) and dropped out of school in 8th grade At one point she was trying to read something our attorney had given her and could not read the word “constipated.”
My son is a HS graduate with some college credits under his belt. Our attorney hit hard on the education aspect, and highlighted the fact that his mom (me) has an ”Education degree”, and he has sister who has a BS in Business.
She also hit on the fact that Chris pays for all of the baby’s food, daycare, etc. out of his own pocket, and doesn’t rely on the state. They both make about the same amount of money.
In her closing arguments our lawyer stated that “Chris is the baby’s best chance to get off of welfare and to get the education she needs to be a successful member of society.”
She also said that Chelsy seemed quite aggressive on the stand whereas my son was, as always, very calm.
So, I think there is a very, good chance that we have won, but I wonder if the attitudes and dress off Chelsy’s friends might have any influence over the verdict as well?
(Our lawyer brought up the education thing on Wednesday, and on Thursday Chelsy’s lawyer was trying to hammer on the fact that Chris had left Chelsy when the baby was only a month old. He said, “He knew she was unemployed and uneducated and he left anyway.” (It didn’t come out that she had attacked him.) I was STUNNED that HE even brought it to the forefront again!)