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Jurors Take On Weighty Matters


Turn on your TV this time of year and you are bound to see a barrage of ads for weight-loss programs, most of them hawked by suddenly-slim ladies looking very pleased with themselves. And now, it seems they have one more reason to be pleased: a recent study suggests that if those ladies ever find themselves in court, they are likely to fare better than their more portly counterparts.

In a report published in the International Journal of Obesity, four Yale University researchers said they asked 471 adults to imagine themselves jurors in a hypothetical check fraud case. Participants were shown a picture of one of four alleged defendants — a lean male, a lean female, an obese male and an obese female — and then rated how guilty they thought the defendant was on a 5-point scale. The researchers found that while female participants were not swayed by the weight of defendants of either sex, men judged obese female defendants significantly more harshly than they did any of the other defendants.

In fact, the men judged the larger ladies more likely to be guilty of check fraud than their thinner sisters and also believed they were more likely to be repeat offenders. When it came to the male defendants, however, weight was a non-issue for the male participants.

Criminal defense attorneys in Denver have long known that the appearance of their client can affect the outcome of the case, and respectfully advise clients to appear in court looking neatly groomed and well-dressed. As this study shows, the devil is in the details.