Dimora trial consultant 'buffs and shines' clients

3:42 PM, Jan 19, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- After decades with a neatly trimmed beard and mustache, Jimmy Dimora came to federal court in Akron clean-shaven.

Many wondered, why the change?

The answer to the appearance change was the work of Dimora trial consultant Joseph V. Guastaferro.

Dimora also did not have his all-dark locks, but instead, gray is now the half-and-half color atop his head.

Guastaferro, according to his description by the American Bar Association, was once a part-time actor who turned to trial consulting who helps lawyers "add a little human appeal to their cases."

They say he doesn't teach his clients how to cry on demand but he does stress straight, plain talk.

He also works on individual cases by helping lawyers deliver more persuasive opening and closing statements and helping them shape the facts of the case.    

Guastaferro teaches trial advocacy seminars for the ABA's continuing legal education.

He was also seen talking with defense attorneys while jury selection in Dimora's county corruption trial was underway.

Trial consulting is a second career for Guastaferro that began about 15 years ago. Before that, he was a part-time actor.

For example, you can see him as the coroner in 1993's "The Fugitive" and as Chuck the bartender in 1986's "The Color of Money."

And if you wonder why someone would need to "look better" while on trial, think about this.

Think of all the mug shots you may have seen after people have been arrested. They are usually not flattering, to say the least. Think the now-iconic mug shot of actor Nick Nolte.

Now Dimora was arrested just before 7 a.m. at home and emerged wearing slacks and a dark grey T-shirt. He was also handcuffed and manacles were attached to a chain arund his waist.

That photograph received a lot of airtime and newspaper time. But Dimora has been a public, county-wide figure for just over 15 years -- and a local mayor and city councilman before that -- so most people already know what he looks like day in and day out.

But this trial is being held in Akron, with the jury pool drawn from five counties other than Cuyahoga County. So many here may have never seen Dimora until they walked into the courtroom.

By having him shave his mustache and beard, he no longer appeared as sterotypically Italian as he had before.

His mug shot supplied by the FBI was nothing more than a driver's license photo so it wasn't as bad but think of the many arrestees whose mug shots are taken at what is likely the worst time of their life.

Trial consultants are extremely aware that jurors are affected by a first impression. Dimora has always prided himself on being attired in a good suit and that needed no consulting.

But Guastaferro also offers advice for witnesses, how defendants should act at the defense table, and other manner of overall trial advice.

Attempts to find out how much Guastaferro charges for his services did not get a response.


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