BUILDING BLOCK # 11

 

CLOSING ARGUMENTS

 

At the end of the course you should be able to perform the following with regards to closing arguments:

 

1. ORGANIZE the closing argument to:

 

        Tie into your theory and theme

 

        If a defendant, directly challenge the plaintiff=s case

 

        Summarize your evidence in a forceful and persuasive manner

 

        Resolve the hard issues in the case by using the Ablock approach@

 

        Have an emotional appeal and/or an appeal to fairness and justice

 

        Request a verdict at end

 

2. Use the BLOCK APPROACH that:

 

        Identifies the hard issues in the case, usually contained in the jury charge, with which the jury will have to grapple in arriving at a decision

 

        Sets off each issue with a conclusory statement or a rhetorical question

 

        Marshals all the evidence in your favor with regards to the issue

 

        Argues why your evidence is persuasive

 

        Identifies evidence in opposition

 

        Argues why opposing evidence is not persuasive

 

        Concludes with resolution of the issue

 

3. Make the closing argument PERSUASIVE by:

 

        Utilizing the doctrines of primacy and recency

 

        Tying into the case theory and theme

 


        Avoiding overstatement

 

        Using powerful language

 

        As plaintiff, avoiding liability before damages; as a defendant, discussing damages before liability

 

        Using exhibits and demonstrative aids

 

        Appealing to both logic and emotion

 

4. ARGUE in the closing argument, including:

 

        Jurors knowledge, experience and common sense

 

        Who can be trusted and believed

 

1)      Witness=s ability and opportunity to observe

 

2)      Witness=s manner and conduct while testifying

 

3)      Witness=s interest, bias and prejudice

 

4)      Relationship between a witness and a party

 

5)      Reasonableness of witness=s testimony, particularly in light of other evidence in the case

 

        Conflicts in the evidence

 

        What could have happened

 

        Analogies, stories, quotations, parables, references to the Bible

 

        Inferences to be drawn from the evidence

 

        Logic

 

        What was proven and not proven

 

        Failure of a witness to testify

 

        Burden of proof and whether satisfied

 

        Jury instructions, applying the law to the facts

 


        Vivid word pictures

 

        Sarcasm

 

        Emotion, sympathy

 

        Damages

 

5. Use an interesting and dynamic STYLE by following the style section of the Opening Statements Building Block.

 

6. AVOID prohibited conduct:

 

        Stating personal belief in truthfulness/untruthfulness of evidence, witnesses or merits

 

        Allude to any matter for which there has been no evidence

 

        Misstating the law

 

        Addressing jurors by name

 

        Appealing to passion or prejudice, juror=s personal or social interest, rich versus poor, local versus out of state

 

        Arguing improper inference from evidence admitted for a limited purpose

 

        Using the Golden Rule

 

        Personal attacks on opposing counsel unsupported by the record

 

        References to insurance