While his family denies that disabled champion runner Oscar Pistorius took acting lessons to prepare himself for trial and others swear that he did take lessons, the bottom line is that something is not right in terms of how he presents himself in the courtroom.
As a jury consultant and someone who has prepared witnesses for trial, I can assure you that acting lessons are the absolute worst thing a person can do to prepare themselves. People need to be genuine and show genuine emotion and speak in a manner. They need to show body language that will not alienate a jury, but rather objectively allow them to hear the message.
In observing Oscar Pistorius’ body language throughout the trial, I noticed many things that are rather odd. His emotions often do not seem to match the situations being discussed or his body language seems to be over the top as far as his emotions are concerned.
He seems to be tuning out which will not endear himself to the judge who, is the only one who will be deciding his fate.
The one thing that I noticed is that he is always covering his ears. In essence he doesn’t want to hear all the gory details about what he did to Reeva. He wants to block it out and that is what he is doing by literally blocking his ears. But that behavior is off putting. He needs to sit there without his hands over his ears and listen to every word. If he shed emotion, it needs to be genuine . He needs toface the details of what he is accused of doing.
Not only does he cover his ears, but he covers his head with his papers as you see in the photo above. It is akin to someone wanting to pull the blankets over their head and not leave their bed or the house. This signals extreme shame and guilt over what he did. He wants it to all go away as he is in essence, hiding.
As well as not wanting to hear the details at the trial, he also does not want to see them. He does not want to see the results of his actions via the gory photos as he tightly shuts his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose in a self comforting gesture.
The gesture where he pulls down the skin on his face is a self mutilation type of gesture which often occurs when a person is feeling guilty and there is no way out. It is a literal form of self punishment as we see Pistorius doing here.
This photo is of Pistorius’ aunt and uncle crying. With their furrowed brows and squinted eyes, they show genuine tears of sadness at what happened in this tragic situation.
In contrast here are Pistorius tears. He hides his face as he cries which to many observing him may indicate that he is faking his cry. Usually when one is in emotional pain, they don’t care who sees them cry. They just express their sorrow and upset openly. Many may feel this is contrived and he may have something to hide.
He cries too often and his recovery time from his cry is too fast. When people recover too quickly from a cry to a normal non crying facial posture it takes them time to recover. He does it almost immediately which may indicate that he is doing all of this crying for affect.
The above cry seems too intense . This facial gesture would occur if someone is in severe extreme grief, where they cannot contain themselves or control their emotions. His hand over his mouth shows that there is something he doesn’t want to reveal. And his tightly squinted eyes are not congruent with the crying emotion he is attempting to display. With a squinty eyed cry the mouth is usually open. That is not the case here.
As a body language I feel that something is off with Pristorius and his emotions. Usually I see an incongruent emotion and body language when the person is medicated or on drugs. But that emotion is usually a more dull or blank facial appearance.
When someone shows the inconsistency of emotion as Pristorius has been doing throughout the trial, it shows me that either he has forced this on his own in terms of trying to project what he thinks the judge wants to see, or that he has been prepped or coached in some way.
If he did take acting lessons, he did himself a huge disservice as he looks like a very bad actor trying to force emotion. It takes years to perfect acting skills, not a few weeks or months. So if he did take the lessons, they clearly did not work. On the other hand if he did not take lessons and he is acting like this on his own, he is also doing himself a huge disservice because he is not putting his position across in a genuine manner.
In the US judicial system if he was in front of a jury of his peers my belief is that he would be convicted based on his body language and vocal tone alone. Whether you want to believe it or not the truth is that juries can and have often judged someone on these things even if all the evidence points in their favor. But Pistorius only has to convince one person whom he refers to as “My lady” throughout the proceedings.
If My lady” uses her legal skills along with her genuine common sense and pays attention to the defendant’s body language, facial, language, and vocal tone, she will come up with the right verdict for Oscar Pistorius as his communication skills and body language speak volumes.