Closing Arguments

Jury instructions:

to the judge by both attorneys) they are submitted to the judge for final

- given to jury by the judge before or after closing arguments

verdict forms

organization of a closing argument

Introduction–thank the jurors for their attention and jump right into your case theme and your arguments.

Issues–state the issue in the case in a way where the answer should be obvious and then answer it anyway (i.e. there is only one issue in this case, was the defendant negligent when he drove his car and crashed into Mr. Jones’s car? The answer is obvious: The defendant was negligent, the defendant was the only one who was negligent, and the defendant’s negligence was the only cause of Mr. Jones’s injuries.")

What really happened and proof–present your version of the truth. Avoid too much time reviewing undisputed facts and events and focus on the key factual disputes in the case, focusing on getting the jury to accept your version and argue that you have more and more credible evidence so that the jury must resolve the disputes in your favor. Let the jury know what the facts mean to win the jury over to your version of the disputed facts.

Basis of liability/nonliability–inform the jury where the liability is (i.e. so what did the defendant do that was negligent (sexual harassment)…")

Damages–state the damages the plaintiff is entitled to recover and justify that (the defense states how the plaintiff is not entitled to damages because the defendant is not liable and justify why).

Instructions–tie specific instructions to specific points in your argument (burden of proof-preponderance of the evidence, defenses/claims, define important legal terms, credibility of witnesses, use of common sense and experiences in life, sympathy should not be considered).

Refute the other side–give the jury reasons to resist the opposing side’s case/arguments

Conclusion–remind the jury of a key theme or other important point and end crisply and dramatically so that your last phrase lingers in the jury’s mind.

preparing the closing argument

techniques to enhance a closing argument

they could–i.e. "you are probably asking yourself…")–to highlight your case or challenge your opponent with difficult or unanswerable questions (i.e. "the plaintiff must prove that …, you must ask, did the plaintiff prove that, as you will recall from the evidence presented today, no evidence was presented to answer that question and, as such, the plaintiff failed to meet her burden of proof." --- i.e. "why didn’t the defendant just keep his foot on the brake until the light changed? It was only two more seconds and an easy task to do. Why didn’t he wait just two seconds? That’s the question they never want asked, and it’s the question they can’t answer."

idea in the jury’s mind.