May 22, 2014 Articles

Closing Arguments—Not Just a "Free-for-All," Part Two

By Christopher G. Floreale

To many trial lawyers, crafting the perfect closing argument is an art form all its own. But while closing arguments allow room for instilling creativity, and most courts instruct juries that closing and opening arguments do not constitute evidence, that does not mean lawyers are free to say anything they'd like in their closing statements.

Part one of this article, which appeared in the previous issue of Minority Trial Lawyer, examined how courts have ruled on various types of arguments made to the jury regarding legal, factual, and other technical issues. This time, it's personal: Part two will explore how courts across the country have ruled on the use of emotional appeals, injection of an attorney's own personal experiences and opinions, and the use of colorful rhetoric in closing arguments.

Understanding what leeway courts have allowed—and what may cross the line—is critical for drafting and delivering closing arguments that not only sing but also succeed.

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