The Weep’: When Tears Flow in Court, Do Lawyers Have a Stategy?


The weep is a courthouse staple, notes the New York Times. The latest excruciating example came this week, as a previously powerful state senator from Brooklyn, Carl Kruger, sobbed his way through an admission of receiving bribes sufficient to have financed a shiny Bentley and a mansion originally built for a mob boss. Kruger's wad of tissues emphasized the humiliation of the moment. But his defense-table crying was far from unique. Which raises a question: What is the proper response to a courtroom wailer? Look away? Tell him or her to man up?

Defense lawyers, who are usually the ones within tissue-supplying range, say that in court, as in life, there is no easy answer. “You can't do much about it,” said Ronald P. Fischetti, a defense lawyer who has handled his share of weeping politicians and red-eyed white-collar criminals. “You can put your arm around him,” Fischetti offered. Kruger's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said that sitting next to his sobbing client was an ordeal, particularly because he could sense the ridicule coming. Many people, he said, “have watched too much TV and believe everything is rehearsed and staged.”

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