New York

Criminals Who Look Nerdy Are Less Likely to Go to Jail


It’s probably not in legal textbooks or on Law and Order (at least, not explicitly) but there is a legal reality called the “nerd defense,” which basically means that if you look like a nerd — i.e., wear glasses at your criminal trial — the jury will be less likely to think you did the horrible things you probably did. The Daily News reports on the legal phenomenon, explaining that “defense lawyers swear by the gimmick,” and the nerdier the glasses, the better.

“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.””

Men who have avoided incarceration due to nerdalicious eyewear include Thomas Cordero, a nude housekeeper acquitted for the stabbing death of a man, and Larry Davis, who executed four men in 1986 and then shot six cops as they attempted to arrest him. (Davis wore horn-rimmed glasses and sweaters at his trial. Nerd-chic!)

How long this “trend” will last remains to be seen, as nerdy glasses are practically high fashion for a certain set. As the life of a trend goes, once everyone wears them, they’re no longer trendy — or, in this case, nerdy. Pocket protectors, however, are still totally nerdy. Aspiring criminals should probably invest.

Defense lawyers swear by gimmick of having defendants wearing glasses at trial [NYDN]

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