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Ring Around the Jury?

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Randy Cohen’s Ethics Column addresses the question of whether an unmarried lawyer should wear a wedding band to impress a jury.  The lawyer’s colleagues advised that he would have better appeal with a wedding band.  So the lawyer wondered whether this was deceiptful – or a simple cosmetic measure no different from wearing glasses to appear more attractive or coloring one’s hair to look younger.   Cohen’s response:

Ah, yes, the liar/lawyer conundrum — and your colleagues have erred on the side of the former. To wear a wedding ring is to declare, albeit nonverbally, that you are married. Falsely making such a declaration is simply lying: The intent is to deceive.

The other examples of image-buffing you cite are more ambiguous, matters of degree, not kind. A head of lustrous nongray hair might make you look more youthful, but it does not aver that, for example, a 50-year-old is 35. A glasses-wearer myself, I am as apt to appear squinty as smart. Similarly, when rumpled I look merely sloppy, not more authentic. These sorts of things are done to enhance your appearance, not utterly falsify it, and reasonably so. It’s OK to put your best foot forward but not to disguise it as a hoof.

In any case, I’m skeptical that there’s something particularly appealing about those who have said "I do." The cultural meaning of marriage is not what it was. (Insert your own list of lawfully wedded ne’er-do-wells here.) You’d do better to wear a Super Bowl ring or an "I Am Julia Roberts" T-shirt.

Personally, I’m not so sure that wearing a wedding band  when  one’s  not married is  per se deceptive, especially since so many married men and women don’t wear one.  Are they also engaged in deception?  In any event, like Cohen, I’m also skeptical that giving jurors the impression of marriage will sway them one way or another.

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