Association of Trial Lawyers of America Closing Argument Outline for MCV 2008 *This may be used as a guide for preparation of closing arguments.* I. Introduction/Theory of the case i. The theory of the case is the theme of your presentation and should be used to tie in your argument to a central point. For instance, a defense attorney could use the theory that “it is easy to point the finger” in a murder case to raise reasonable doubt. Your theory should illustrate your point in a way that an average person/juror can understand. ii. Explain why the jury should rule in your favor. The jury should find in your favor because of the argument you present – “the evidence shows that the defendant is guilty” or “the defendant couldn’t have killed the victim because the witnessed have testified to his alibi.” II. Present the Issues a. State the issue in the case in a way that the answer should be obvious. Then answer the issue anyway. i. Example: “There is only one issue before you today – Was the defendant present at the scene at the time of the crime or do we have a case of mistaken identity? He was with his mother. Therefore, he couldn’t have been the killer.” III. Present the facts of the case, tell the jury what really happened, and explain the proof as to why your side of the story is the accurate one. a. It is up to the attorney to argue the facts and use the evidence admitted in trial to mold the jury’s perception of events. i. Use testimony admitted into evidence by the attorneys to argue and prove your side of the story. b. Be sure to make arguments supporting your side and refuting the other side’s points. Be sure not to violate the golden rule or make extremely prejudicial statements. IV. Present basis of guilt or innocence a. Immediately following your argument on what happened and why the facts compel the conclusion that it happened the way you claim, sum up the reasons why the defendant is guilty or not guilty based upon the law. b. In most criminal cases, the state has the burden of proving guild beyond a reasonable doubt. V. Jury Instructions a. Incorporate the Jury Instructions of the case being tried into your argument. i. At the end of a trial, jurors are provided with a set of instructions describing the burden of proof in the case and other factors to be used in deciding a verdict. GOOD LUCK!
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