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Closing Argument Competition


									Closing Argument

   Criminal Law Society
• 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.
• 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
  – Prosecution and defense roles will be
    randomly assigned.
  – Notified by Thursday morning, 10/19.
  – Competitors will argue directly against one
  – 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
  – 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
•   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)
• 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
  – 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
       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.
• 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.
• Any other questions or comments?
• Contact
  – Braeden Sullivan
  – Emily Andrews

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