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Closing Argument

CLOSING ARGUMENTThe closing argument, like the opening argument, is extremely important to a party's case. It is a chance to recap all of the positive points established during the course of the trial, to explain (and, ideally, diminish the importance of) anything negative suggested by the opposition, and to make a final appeal to the judge or jury on one's behalf.

In a trial where it appears one party will clearly be successful, the opening argument is important to the prevailing party to secure for the decision maker the correctness of deciding in their favor, and to the non-prevailing party as a final plea to the decision maker to consider their side of the argument. Where at the conclusion of trial the respective likelihoods of success of the parties are not clearly established, closing arguments are particularly important as they are a final opportunity to sway the decision of the decision maker.


A closing argument should include a reminder of all evidence helpful to a party's case, brought together in a cohesive and persuasive manner to establish that the party's position in the lawsuit is the correct one. Take this time to also remind the decision maker that this is what you told them you were going to prove at the outset. If you cannot make this declaration then you are in trouble!

In a jury trial, the closing argument is a good opportunity to remind the jury of the applicable standard of proof, or how much the plaintiff must prove to prevail against the defendant. This is crucial, because there are instances when the evidence presented by both sides carries equal weight, and the slightest push will skew the case in favor of one party or the other.

The closing statement should conclude with a strong, confident statement about why the law as applied to the facts proven by the party dictates a decision for that party. It is imperative that you also ask the jury to return a verdict in your favor. This may seem like a very simple tip, but it is the most important part of a successful closing.


The closing statement is the last opportunity for a party to present not just his/her position in the case to the judge or jury, but also to present him- or herself as a person. Juries, especially, are affected by parties' physical demeanor and the way they present themselves.
Nervousness is an understandable emotion, particularly during the "last chance" stage of a closing argument, but a nervous demeanor does not inspire confidence or trust in a jury. A party must appear sure of their position and confident of their success.

A kind and non-argumentative approach is also important. The jury will leave to deliberate with an impression of a party that is largely shaped by what how the party appears and what he/she says during their closing statement. A eager, complete, confident, and honest presentation is more likely to make the jury sympathetic to a parties' case and to influence the jury to return a decision in favor of the party.


In a jury trial, the closing argument should be presented in clear, easy-to-understand terms. The goal is for the jury to leave the courtroom for deliberations with a clear picture of what the evidence is and which party it favors.


Although a closing argument should be convincing, clear, and impassioned, it is NOT appropriate to set forth personal beliefs during this time. Personal opinions are not only legally unallowable, they are likely to make the party offering them look desperate and incompetent.

It is important to stick to the evidence presented at trial, the applicable law, and the rational relationship between the two. For example, it is useful to point out any inconsistencies in the testimony of opposition witnesses, but it is not appropriate to call a witness or a party for whom that witness testified a liar. Strong evidence stands alone; injecting personal disdain into a closing argument is likely to drive the jury away.

Golden Rule

The "Golden Rule" is a rule that prohibits a plaintiff (or his/her attorney) from requesting that the jury put itself "in the position of" the plaintiff when deciding what damages to award should the plaintiff emerge victorious.

This approach may seem tempting, but is absolutely forbidden; every person is different, and suggesting such a consideration to a jury may result in biasing the jury toward awarding more or less than the plaintiff's case actually warrants. If a plaintiff or his/her attorney does pose a similar consideration, the defense should object immediately.

It is, however, permissible to ask the jury to consider the plaintiff's damages, as long as it is clear that the consideration should apply to the specific plaintiff, NOT to a jury member in the same position as the plaintiff. To ensure that no violation of the Golden Rule occurs, closing arguments should be phrased in terms of the plaintiff specifically, or in terms of a "reasonable person" or the general public.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------If you are a business owner get listed at Best Legal Site, part of Localwin Network.
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