Before The Honourable Court Of Psychology

Before The Honourable Court Of Psychology

One summer morning at a trial court room, a learned judge enters escorted by the bailiff of the court, cases are being taken up one by one, some arguments are heard and some adjournments given. Then my case gets taken up. Bailiff calls out the title of the case and the scene is set. Counsels from both sides stand in front of the rostrum with some fluttering of papers, some murmuring between themselves, their juniors and clients and then the arguments begin, voices going up and down.

Just when the opposing counsel raises a point that actually favours me as well, I raise my head and my eyebrow and I smile and nod. At that exact moment I have an eye-contact with the judge and it seems as if he has noticed something important as well, though of course he has no clue what I am thinking or about to say at that point, but he notices that there my be something there and he becomes more attentive and writes something down. During this exchange of expressions I learn something new at this hearing, which is the fact that you can capture another person’s attention by your expressions and then you take off from there. It’s a mind game and it is the base of our psychology – we react to things, expressions, events, pitch of voice and so on and so forth.

On another day, the courtroom of honourable High Court is jammed with lawyers and clients. Arguments begin and seem to be going against me so much so that the judge asks me to call an official from my client’s department to answer in court. Then the honourable judge dictates the order in the following words: “The counsel on behalf of the department, who is very well prepared…. ” This comes as a surprise as I think that I had failed in assisting the court. The moment the judge dictates these words, he glances over at my yellow writing pad, which because of space constraints I have placed on the upper edge of the dice, and which contains my neatly written notes. The learned judge looks at me while dictating the order. This has proved out to be one of the best ways to get full attention. The judges do notice, register facts, make impressions and decide.

Yet on another day, I reach court early, cases are being called out by the reader of the court but no file is being placed before the judge. So I approach the learned judge and request him to take up my case but the learned judge declines and orders me to wait for my turn. I take a seat in the corner and when my turn comes I say what I have to say and the case is adjourned. On the next date of the hearing I enter the courtroom, bow a little before the judge, mark my presence with the reader of the court but not approach the judge this time. It is only after a few minutes that the learned judge asks the reader of the court to place my case file for hearing. Again, some words are said and case is adjourned. On the next date of hearing I repeat the same ritual and again get called shortly out of turn, the case gets heard and decided in my client’s favour! I say you should always respect the grace and discretion of the court even if you have an open-and-shut case in your favour.

Lawyers may not always know what the law is but good lawyers know where to find it, and sometimes both opposing counsels find precedents in their favour since the law keeps evolving. Combined with this, if you can also respect the grace and discretion of the court and have the attention of the judge, you have hit a home run.

Your tone, body language, dressing, stature and overall presentation combined with your preparation of case files and lawyering in action, do make a psychological impact on the judge.

“Know thy judge” is not just a saying, it’s a catharsis, the process of emotional release towards the learned judge, thereby providing relief as well as getting relief.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of or any organization with which he might be associated.

Syed Hasnain Haider

Author: Syed Hasnain Haider

The writer is a legal practitioner, working in areas of civil, corporate, constitutional and labour laws for more than 12 years. He is also a lecturer at Hamdard School of Law, Karachi.