A guy in glasses wouldn't hurt a fly, right? That's what some defense lawyers hope people believe when they tell their clients to wear specs to trial. These days, thick-framed non-prescription "hipster" glasses are all the rage in court, the Washington Post reports. "If you’re wearing glasses, you don’t look like what people might expect a criminal to look like," says a jury consultant. Adds a lawyer: "Sometimes I want my clients to wear them to appear more studious."
In some cases, the eyewear hasn't been talked about. But in a trial this month, all five defendants accused in a string of DC murders turned up wearing glasses, prompting a prosecutor to ask a witness if he'd ever seen his friend wearing glasses before; the witness said no. "They’re masks. They’re designed to confuse the witness and influence the jury," says one prosecutor. A study suggests the defendants may be onto something: Researchers found that African-American defendants in glasses were perceived as more honest and intelligent, though white defendants weren't seen that way.