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Willie and the Hand Jive 

Mayoral poses that should give you pause

Wednesday, May 22 1996
One of the sheer joys of watching a politician at the top of his form is the dynamic of a strong visual presence. In this regard, Mayor Willie Brown rarely fails to disappoint. Whether he's addressing a neighborhood meeting, speaking to students, or performing a same-sex marriage ceremony, Willie doesn't just offer a dazzling performance, he seems to give 110 percent on every play. He can go long, he can go short, he's tough on the option, nobody can beat his open-field running, and he's not afraid to get his Brioni dirty.

But before he became the city's star quarterback, he was a high-priced attorney. And lawyers should play the game by different rules, according to Harvard Visiting Professor Peter Murray. In his recent book Basic Trial Advocacy, Murray outlines the problem of visual presentation in the courtroom -- specifically, an attorney's use of his hands when addressing groups of people. As Murray says, "Some common hand positions are believed to convey certain messages."

Willie Brown's hand positions and messages seem to be in direct violation of Professor Murray's thesis, according to these recent images. Our mayor may be running a large metropolis, but he's certainly not setting a good example for young lawyers. And with body language this distracting, he can forget about ever retiring to teach at Harvard.

All quotes are taken from Basic Trial Advocacy.

About The Author

Jack Boulware


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