The power of a song

Blonde Justice has a wonderful story about the power of music and how it is possible to inject some humanity into the cold halls of our courthouses.  She writes about how she meets a man in the courthouse hall who is worried about a hearing he is about to walk into.  He is carrying a cello that he is to play at a friend’s wedding later that evening – our friend Blonde Justice suggests:

“Maybe you can tell the Judge that if he puts you in jail some poor bride’s wedding will be ruined.  Or offer to play for him as your community service.”

The man is called into the courtroom, and our friend Blonde Justice remains in the hallway talking shop with a prosecutor, when minutes later they hear the sounds of a cello coming from the courtroom:

And, amazingly, everyone in the busy courthouse hallway stopped, for just a few seconds, to look toward the courtroom door and to listen. A couple that had been arguing quieted.  Their kid, in his stroller, stopped crying for their attention.  For a minute, the sometimes inhumane courthouse seemed like an almost heavenly place.

What a beautiful story – we don’t know how it ends or if the musician is sent to jail, but really how could he have been?  The power of music, which may be the most effective means of tapping into our shared experience as human beings, is rarely seen or heard in the courthouse.  This man, walking into a frightening and unfamiliar situation, with the help of Blonde Justice, turned to what he knew best – a combination of circumstance (carrying his cello) and ability (he is a musician) that made it possible to bring color, life, and compassion to an otherwise cold and gray scenario.

I am always looking for ways to bring music into the trial of cases, and it is difficult at best.  It is not ordinarily something that can be planned – it is something that must come spontaneously.  I have talked to a few attorneys that were brave enough to sing in their closing arguments, but I have not yet had a trial where it felt appropriate to me.  One thing that I have done is to look for a song that sums up my case, that fits my client or that captures the theme of the trial, learn it, sing it, and play it on the ipod and in my head and my heart throughout the trial of the case.  It helps me to feel what I need to feel in that particular case, and I cannot expect to convey that emotion to the judge, prosecutor, and jury unless I have found a way to feel it myself.

I would love to hear ways that others have found to incorporate music into their trial work, whether in preparation or especially during the trial itself.  Anyone?

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