April 20, 2020 From the Chair

Improper Golden Rule Argument

Stephen A. Saltzburg

Prosecutors and defense counsel have considerable latitude in closing argument to use colorful language, forceful analogies, and historical references in an effort to be as persuasive as possible. But there are limits on what may be argued, and one of those limits is that there can be no golden rule argument. As the discussion below indicates, everyone agrees that there is a “rule,” but how it is to be defined and applied is not so clear.

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