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Closing Argument Competition Criminal Law Society Goals • This program was borne out of a desire to create additional trial advocacy opportunities for all students. • Allowing 1Ls an accessible opportunity to argue a case in court in the first semester of law school. • Provide an opportunity for upper-division students to gain courtroom experience. Timeline • Problem distributed Friday 10/6 by 5pm. • Competition week of October 16. – Preliminary Round 1 - Mon. 10/16 • Moot Ct Room; 12:30-2:30pm, 8:30-10pm – Preliminary Round 2 - Wed. 10/18 • St. Thomas More 101; 4-8pm – Semi-Final Round – Fri. 10/20 • Moot Ct Room; 6pm – Final Round – Fri. 10/20 • Moot Ct Room, 7pm • Followed by reception in Strong Common Room Structure of the Competition • Everyone gives a closing argument as both the prosecutor and the defense attorney in the case. – Monday’s prelim round = Prosecution – Wednesday’s prelim round = Defense • 5 minute time limit for argument. • Competitors will all be scored individually and will not argue directly against anyone. Structure continued… • Top 4 competitors advance to Semi-Final Round. – Prosecution and defense roles will be randomly assigned. – Notified by Thursday morning, 10/19. – Competitors will argue directly against one another. – 7 minute time limits. Prosecutor may reserve 2 minutes for rebuttal. Structure continued… • Top 2 competitors advance to Final Round – Prosecution and defense roles will be randomly assigned. – Competitors will be notified immediately following second semi-final round and will have 20 minutes to regroup/prepare before final round commences. – Competitors will argue directly against one another. – 7 minute time limits, including rebuttal. Rules of the Competition • All participants must prepare closing arguments for both sides. • Competitors cannot watch other rounds until they have been eliminated from the competition. • Competitors may not object during their opponent’s argument. • No outside research! • Electronic visual aids are prohibited, although competitors may hold up actual exhibits. Rules continued… • Appropriate courtroom attire required. • Assume there will not be a podium available in the courtroom. • Most of the judges will be sitting in the jury box, so you should directly address the jury during your argument. • Only the information in the transcript was entered into evidence at trial. • Have fun and be creative, but remember appropriate courtroom decorum. Scoring Guidelines • Argument & explanation of law • Argument & explanation of facts • Poise/demeanor • Creativity • Logical & effective structure • Overall impression • Response to opponent’s argument (in advanced rounds) Questions? • Any questions about: – Timeline – Structure – Rules of Competition – Scoring Art of Closing Arguments • Purpose – Closing is not a science – it’s an art. – Show why you win – show jurors what they want to do and why. – Use some emotional or psychological pull to engage the jurors. – Argue! Closings are your one opportunity to argue your case. The jury does not want to just hear a flat recitation of the facts Closing Arguments continued… • The first and last paragraph: – The first and last things the jury hears are going to be the things they remember the most. – Should communicate four things: • Theme • Theory • Passion • Plea Closing Arguments continued… • Structure – There is no “one right way” to structure a closing argument. Some people structure the argument around the facts, some base it on the jury instructions, and some weave a theme throughout the closing that lends it structure. Find what works best for you. – Apply the facts to the law – do not just tell the jurors that the defendant did something, tell them how the evidence shows that. – Argue YOUR case – both your strengths and weaknesses. Additional Resources • Look at a book on trial techniques. • Talk with a criminal law attorney. – Meet someone at DA/PD panel 9/28! • Watch some arguments in court. • Google “closing argument strategy” and look at some articles on the subject. Sign-up! • We will have a table in the Bannan Lobby – Wed. 10/4, 5:30-9pm – Thurs. 10/5, 10am-4pm – Fri. 10/6, 10am-12pm • If you sign up for a time to compete, please make sure you come and arrive on time. We will have students, professors, attorneys, and judges donating their time to make this competition successful. Questions? • Any other questions or comments? • Contact – Braeden Sullivan • BLSullivan@scu.edu – Emily Andrews • EAndrews@scu.edu
"Closing Argument Competition"