Closing Arguments Examples: Kick-Ass Closing Arguments Part 1

Closing Argument Template

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Kick-Ass Closings: A Guide to Giving the Best Closing Argument of Your Life. This book gives examples of sample closing arguments and teaches lawyers how to create a closing argument template.

Closing Arguments Samples: Closing Argument Templates

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1727642570 Michael Waddington is a criminal defense lawyer, best-selling author, and trial consultant that defends cases worldwide. Mr. Waddington specializes in defending serious criminal cases including sex crimes, war crimes, military sex crimes, violent crimes, and white-collar crimes.

KICK-ASS CLOSINGS: A Guide to Giving the Best Closing Argument of Your Life

by Michael Waddington

This book is not a legal treatise or technical course in trial advocacy. Rather, it is a compilation of closing arguments delivered in actual criminal trials. Some of the closing arguments in this book have been edited for length and clarity. Closing arguments are speeches, not term papers. They are read like poems or lines of a play. Therefore, I broke the arguments down by phrase, instead of by paragraph, to mimic the way an oral argument is delivered.

Praise for Kick-Ass Closings

Kick-Ass Closings should be mandatory for every law student who wants to call her or himself a trial lawyer. Practicing lawyers will find the stories and insights great food for thought and non-lawyers will love it as it gives a keen insight into both the art and science of presenting to and persuading people.”
-Mark O’Mara, O’Mara Law Group

“Phenomenal resource for lawyers young and old! When you know a not guilty is within reach – the wisdom in this book will inspire and guide you to giving the best closing of your life!”
-Brian Bieber, GrayRobinson, P.A.

“We aren’t in class anymore! Kick-Ass Closings is written from the trenches, by trial lawyers who actually try cases, and win. If you want to be a closer, you need this book.” -Tim Bilecki, Bilecki & Tipon, LLLC

“This work defines the structure, the content, the interplay of other aspects of the trial, and the means by which successful lawyers maintain their champions of justice status. Simply put, own and use this great collection – your skill level will increase exponentially.”
-James A.H. Bell, The Law Offices of James A.H. Bell

Click here to buy Kick-Ass Closings on Amazon

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank the many people who have assisted with this trial guide. Most importantly, my wife and law partner, Alexandra. For two years, she pushed me to work on and finish this book. Every time I would talk about it, she would tell me to “Get to work and stop talking about it.” I nearly quit several times, in particular when our home, office, and lives in Puerto Rico were hit by Hurricane Maria in 2017. In the aftermath, we found ourselves in Florida, trying to rebuild our lives and law practice. Despite the upheaval, she pushed me forward. A year later, I finished the manuscript.

I would also like to thank my friends and Fellows in the American Board of Criminal Lawyers (ABCL), who have provided tremendous support throughout this project and have made outstanding contributions to this book. In particular, I owe special thanks to Ian Friedman, Brian Bieber, Barry Scheck, Joel Hirschhorn, Cheney Mason, and James A.H. Bell.

I would also like to thank Mark Geragos, Mark O’Mara, Thomas A. Mesereau, Jose Baez, Gerry Spence, Timothy Bilecki, Eric Romano, Dean Strang, Robert Casale, and Jerome Buting, for their excellent closing arguments used in this book. In addition, Stacy Walsh’s editing and feedback were crucial in preparing this book for print.

Finally, as a criminal defense lawyer, I owe gratitude to the warriors who fought like gladiators for truth, justice, and the American way. In particular, I thank Clarence Darrow and Johnnie Cochran. They inspired me as a young lawyer, and guide me to this day. Their arguments can be found throughout this book. They are the gold standard all lawyers should strive for.

When a judge compliments you, it usually means you have lost.
-James B. Donovan

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CONTENTS OF KICK-ASS CLOSINGS

INTRODUCTION

Closing Argument Template 5

DISCUSSING EMOTION, PREJUDICE, & PASSION IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Emotional Decisions Are Almost Always Bad Decisions 11

No One Has the Right to Base a Decision on Emotion 12

Don’t Convict Because You Feel Sorry 12

The Prosecutor is a Theatrical Manipulator 13

Don’t Vote with the Crowd or Based on TV 16

Base Your Verdict on Evidence, Not Emotion 18

Put Your Original Emotional Reaction in Check 19

A Conviction Won’t Bring Back the Victim 22

I Would Love to Solve This Case 23

Reject Emotional Manipulation 23

Addressing the Appeal to Emotion in a Self-defense Case 26

You Can’t be Swayed by Sympathy, Prejudice, or Passion 29

Don’t Convict Because You Fear Public Backlash 29

DEFINING REASONABLE DOUBT IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

The Prosecution Hates Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 33

Where Did the Murder Occur = Reasonable Doubt 35

Doubt May Arise from Conflicts in Evidence or Lack of Evidence 35

More Questions Than Answers = Reasonable Doubt 36

Not Proven = Not Guilty 36

If You Don’t Know What Happened = Reasonable Doubt 37

Story of the Cat & the Mouse 38

Don’t Know the Cause of Death = Reasonable Doubt 39

Every Element Must Be Proven Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 40

Summarizing Reasonable Doubts 40

Unreliable Forensic Evidence = Reasonable Doubt 41

Story of Rancid Lamb Stew 41

Your Job Is Not Hard, They Have No Coherent Theory 43

The Concept of Reasonable Doubt 43

All it Takes is One Reasonable Doubt 44

Discussing the Levels of Proof 47

The Prosecution Must Win By Knockout 48

Possibly Not Guilty = Reasonable Doubt 49

You Can’t Connect the Dots for the Prosecution 50

Addressing the Prosecution’s Puzzle Argument 54

If He May Have Acted in Self-defense = Reasonable Doubt 55

Elements Are Like Cake Ingredients 55

To Take Away Somebody’s Liberty, They Got to Prove Their Case 56

Applying the Presumption of Innocence 56

They Must Knock Us Out With Overwhelming Proof 57

Johnnie Cochran’s 15 Unanswered Questions 57

DISCUSSING BURDEN SHIFTING IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

The Burden Stays on Their Table and Rests With Them 65

You Never Shift the Burden to the Defense 65

Who Committed the Crime? The Prosecution Must Answer That 65

You Can’t Convict Him of Murder Because He Had an Affair 66

They Must Prove the Evidence Wasn’t Tampered With 67

We Don’t Take on a Burden Because We Have a Theory 67

We Can’t Let Them Get Away From Their Burden 67

We Cannot Let Them Turn the Constitution on its Head 68

They Have a Theory But No Underlying Facts to Support It 69

We Can Cower Before the Storm or We Can Light Candles 69

Defendant is Not Required to Present Evidence or Proof 70

They Have All of the Burden and There is None Over Here 71

This is Not a Trick – Not Proven Means Not Guilty 71

The Benefit of the Doubt Always Goes with the Defendant 72

They Must Take Away All Reasonable Doubt 72

Two Conflicting Theories? You Must Choose Innocence 72

DISCUSSING CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Explaining Circumstantial Evidence 75

Circumstantial Evidence – Defense Gets the Benefit of the Doubt 78

Circumstantial Evidence – The Defense Wins in a Tie 79

If Two Theories are Reasonable – You Must Go With Innocence 79

Each Essential Fact Must be Proven Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 79

If They Fail to Prove One Essential Fact, You Must Acquit 80

Reasonable Hypothesis of Innocence = Acquittal 80

DISCUSSING LACK OF CORROBORATION IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Story of the Judge’s Gavel 83

They’ve Dirtied Him Up, But They Haven’t Proven Their Case 84

Cherry Picking Evidence 85

Drug Dealer? Where’s the Evidence? 87

What is Corroboration? 89

There Are No Independent Witnesses or Evidence 90

Evidence That’s Not There, That Should Be 91

DISCUSSING JUSTICE IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Jury Service is the Highest Act of Citizenship 95

Journey Towards Justice 95

You Are the Conscience of the Community 95

Don’t Compromise Your Principles or Your Consciences 96

Empowering the Jury 97

It is Not About Winning, It is About What is Right 97

If You Don’t Stand Up, This Conduct Will Continue Forever 98

Stay the Course, Keep Your Eye on the Prize, Do the Right Thing 98

ATTACKING THE PROSECUTION

THE GOVERNMENT IS POWERFUL IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

When the Government Sets Their Cross-Hairs 103

He’s Not “A Messenger” – He’s the Prosecutor 103

They Traveled the World Trying to Build a Case 104

Don’t Feel Sorry for the Prosecutor, They Have Many Resources 105

The Federal Government Has Vast Resources 105

It Doesn’t Become a Crime Because They Say So 106

DISCUSSING OVERREACHING PROSECUTORS IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Tell the Government They’ve Overreached 111

We’re Here to Judge the Prosecution’s Evidence 111

They Don’t Have the Right to Overcharge 112

Prosecutors Wildly Speculate, When They Don’t Have a Case 113

Prosecution Cannot Cut Corners & Make Assumptions 113

DISCUSSING SPECULATION & ASSUMPTIONS IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

The Prosecution is Speculative and Cynical 117

You Cannot Guess a Man Into Prison 118

The Prosecutor’s Are Not Doctors, They’re Speculating 118

If You Have Questions, Then it Was Not Proven 119

Prosecution’s Theory is a Fantasy 121

Stare Harder & You May See Their Phantom Evidence 121

They Will Do Anything to Distort the Facts 122

Could Be, Might Be, Maybe is Not Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 123

Government is Trying to Assume its Way to a Conviction 123

Prosecutor’s Fantasy 123

Don’t Assume, Presume, Connect Dots, or Fill-in Blanks 124

They Want You to Fill in the Gaps with Anger & Emotion 125

You Heard Too Many What-Ifs, Could’ve Beens 125

Assumptions Without Any Basis in Fact Whatsoever 126

Could’ve Beens Don’t Belong in this Courtroom 127

We Can’t Speculate Someone Into the Penitentiary 127

“Maybe” is Not Evidence 128

Decide Based on Evidence, Not Emotion 128

DISCUSSING CYNICAL PROSECUTORS IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

To a Prosecutor, Everything Looks Like a Crime 133

If They Disagree, Then They Should Refute it With Evidence 133

Their Evidence is a Molehill 134

To the Prosecution, Everything Shows Motive 134

If This is a Search for the Truth, Let’s Look for the Truth 135

The Turned Every Positive Aspect into a Negative 135

They Live in a Land of Pessimism 136

Prosecution Turn Innocent Facts into Proof of Guilt 137

To the Prosecution, Everything is Sinister 139

If it Doesn’t Fit, You Must Acquit 139

To Them, Everything Points to Guilt 142

DISCUSSING HOW THEY FAILED TO PRESENT EXCULPATORY WITNESSES IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

They Failed to Bring Key Eyewitnesses 147

We Have No Burden, We Brought Witnesses, Why Didn’t They? 148

Failure to Call the Coroner that Did the Autopsy 149

Failure to Find & Produce Exculpatory Witnesses 150

Failure to Call Easy to Locate Corroboration Witnesses 150

When a Defense Expert is Not Rebutted 151

We Had to Bring Him Because the State Didn’t Do So 152

Exculpatory Evidence is Meaningless, To the Prosecution 153

In the Search for truth, We Had to Call The Witnesses 153

If They Want the Truth, They Would Have Called These Witnesses 153

The Prosecution is on the Defensive 154

We Have No Burden, But We Presented Evidence 154

DISCUSSING WHEN THEY DEHUMANIZE YOUR CLIENT IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Prosecution Never Calls Him by His Name, They Call Him Defendant 159

They Are Desperate So They Smeared a Good Man’s Name 159

A Barbaric Attempt to Dehumanize & Degrade Michael 160

Character Assassination 161

You Cannot Take Away Someone’s Voice in the Courtroom 162

DISCUSSING “THE DEFENSE PROMISED IN OPENING” IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

My Opening is What I Expected Their Evidence to Show 167

My Opening is What I Hoped the Evidence Would Show 168

DISCUSSING DEFENDANT DID NOT TESTIFY IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Not Testifying is a Fundamental Right 173

Explaining Why a Defendant Did Not Testify 175

Not Testifying is Not an Admission of Guilt 176

DISCUSSING PROSECUTION ATTACKS UNBIASED WITNESSES IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

They Ridiculed & Attacked Witnesses in Their Obsession to Win 181

Abusive Prosecutors Aren’t Seeking the Truth 181

Witnesses Didn’t Fit Their Theory, So They Attacked Them 182

DISCUSSING ILLOGICAL ARGUMENTS IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Their Argument Makes No Sense 187

Shifting Prosecution Theories 187

Mocking Foolish Arguments 188

DISCUSSING WITNESSES IN A CLOSING ARGUMENT

DISCUSSING LIES & LIARS IN CLOSING ARGUMENTSv

Deception Indicators 193

It’s Hard to Listen to a Witness Lie 193

When You’re Lying at the Beginning, You’ll Be Lying at the End 194

It Was Not a Language Issue, It Was a Dishonesty Issue 195

Liars Can Be Tricky 195

Don’t Feel Bad for Lying Witnesses 196

Willful False Testimony – Reject All of It 197

Why Did the Witnesses’ Testimony Change? 198

False Testimony is the Cornerstone of the Prosecution’s Case 199

Twins of Deception – Wipe Out Their Testimony 200

Can’t Trust the Message – You Can’t Trust the Messengers 200

Willful False Testimony Taints All the Evidence 200

It’s Simple, Do You Believe this Witness Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 200

You Cannot Believe Known Liars Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 204

Cross-Examination Exposed the Liar 205

This Case Rises and Falls on a Known Liar 205

It Only Takes One Lie Under Oath to Throw Out the Case 206

Witness is Always Blaming Someone Else 208

Would a Police Officer Lie? 208

It’s Not Badgering If the Witness Refuses to Answer 208

DISCUSSING CREDIBILITY IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Tell the Truth, You Always Get the Truth Right 213

You are Either Credible or You are Not 213

Credibility Doesn’t Attach to a Title or Position 214

Determining Witness Credibility 215

No Side Has a Priority On the Truth 215

DISCUSSING SNITCHES IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Don’t Trust Bought Testimony 219

He’s Testifying for a Sentence Reduction 220

Don’t Trust the Snitch 221

They Paid for the Snitch’s Testimony with Freedom 222

Don’t Trust a Snake 222

DISCUSSING DEMEANOR IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Turning the Victim’s Demeanor Against Them 227

People React Differently Under Extreme Stress 227

His Demeanor Was Consistent with Innocence 230

DISCUSSING EMOTIONAL WITNESSES IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Crying Does Not Equate to Being Truthful 235

The Defendant “Didn’t Act Normal” 236

Explaining Bizarre Behavior 236

DISCUSSING COACHED WITNESSES IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Coached Witness Couldn’t Recall Anything on Cross 239

The Prosecution Coached a Perjurious Witness 240

DISCUSSING MANIPULATIVE WITNESSES IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Compulsive Liars & Manipulators 243

DISCUSSING WHY DO PEOPLE LIE? IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Why Do People Lie? 247

Intelligence 248

Ability to Observe 248

Ability to Accurately Remember 249

The Forgetful Witness 251

We Know Nothing About These Witnesses – Why Trust Them? 252

Some People Do Crazy Things 253

Her Motive to Lie is Irrelevant, We Know She Lied 254

Some People Lie, Others Are Confused 254

She’s Not Lying, But, She’s Not Describing a Crime 255

DISCUSSING BIASED WITNESSES IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Their Witness Has an Ax to Grind 259

The Family Turned Because of Amber Frey 261

DISCUSSING SINCERITY & CONDUCT IN COURT IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Their Witness Reeks of Bias 265

Weasel Words – Shifty Witnesses 266

DISCUSSING RACIAL PREJUDICE IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Addressing Racial Prejudice Head On 271

Dealing with Prejudice When Asking for Justice 272

This is a Race Question 273

Now, Gentlemen, I Say You are Prejudiced 276

COPS & INVESTIGATORS

DISCUSSING CORRUPT INVESTIGATORS IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

When Police Cover for Each Other 281

Why Do Police Plant Evidence? 281

Mark Fuhrman – Exposed as a Liar and Racist 281

Corrupt Cops – A Rotten Apple Will Infect the Entire Barrel 283

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem 284

A Police Officer on the Street is Powerful 284

These Are the Facts – I Haven’t Made Them Up 285

What You Do in the Dark is Going to Come to the Light 285

A Rush to Judgment, an Obsession to Win 286

We Demand an Unbiased Investigation 286

Who Polices the Police? You Police the Police 286

DISCUSSING INCOMPETENT POLICE IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Confirmation Bias & the Story of the Archer 291

Incompetent Bungling Police Rushed to Judgment 292

They Formed an Opinion from the Beginning 294

Biased Investigator Was Personally Involved with the Victim 294

A Tragic Combination of Sloppy Errors & Cover-ups 296

This Was Not Traditional Law Enforcement 296

Somebody Played with This Evidence – No Doubt 297

If Any Evidence is Manufactured, None Can Be Trusted 298

Was the Investigation Reasonable? 299

DISCUSSING COERCED STATEMENTS IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

His Statement Was Coerced 303

Disregard the Statement Unless it Was Freely Made 305

DISCUSSING FORENSICS, EXPERTS, & CONTAMINATION IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Where Is the Blood On the Underwear? 309

DNA Doesn’t Tell a Story, The People Tell Stories 310

Missing Forensic Evidence 310

Once Evidence is Contaminated, It is Contaminated 312

DNA Alone Does Not Prove Rape 313

Labs Require: Rules, Training, Quality Assurance, Chain of Custody 313

Labs Cannot Create Chain of Custody Docs After the Fact 314

Laboratory is Not Accredited or Inspected 314

Chain of Custody is Absolutely Critical 315

Science is as Good as the People Who Employ It 315

Laboratory Is Not in Compliance 316

Tainted Evidence, Like a Cockroach in Spaghetti, Must be Rejected 316

Lab Error Probability – A Cesspool of Contamination 317

Defense Called More Lab Experts Than the Prosecution – Why? 317

Science Can’t Establish the Cause of Death, Tests Were Negative 318

Their Expert Was a Advocate, Not a Scientist 319

Rely on Actual Physical Evidence, Not Nonsense 319

You May Believe or Disbelieve an Expert 320

Discussing Expert Witness Fees 320

Where’s All of the Blood – There is None 321

You Never Get a Second Chance at a Crime Scene 323

DEFENSES & SPECIFIC CRIMES

DISCUSSING SELF-DEFENSE IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

What Matters is the Defendant’s Perspective 329

You Don’t Need an Eye Witness to Prove Self-defense 329

Self-defense Standard of Proof 330

Prosecution Must Prove There Was No Self-Defense 331

When He Shot, What Other Options Did He Have? 331

A Man Has the Right to Shoot in Self-Defense 332

Defendant’s Testimony is Evidence of Self-defense 333

Relative Physical Abilities in Self-defense 334

No Injuries Necessary to Use Deadly Force 334

Self-Defense Defined 335

Justifiable Use of Force 336

If You Debate Whether He Acted in Self-defense, That’s Doubt 336

I Wish I Could Put You in the Defendant’s Shoes That Night 337

A Man’s Home is His Castle 338

There is No Evidence to Refute Self-defense 340

Put Yourself in Their Shoes 340

What Was in Her Head at the Moment She Pulled the Trigger? 341

DISCUSSING ENTRAPMENT IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Entrapment in an Online Sex Sting 343

DISCUSSING SPECIFIC INTENT IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Not Every Touching is Sexual 357

Specific Intent in Online Sex Stings 357

DISCUSSING MOTIVE IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Financial Motive is Ludicrous 361

Absence of Motive May Tend to Establish Innocence 361

They Struggled to Come Up With a Motive 362

Lack of Motive Can Raise Reasonable Doubt 362

Attacking the Theory of Motive 362

DISCUSSING PRIOR BAD ACTS IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Prior Bad Acts Are Band Aids for a Bad Case 365

DISCUSSING SEXUAL ASSAULT IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

The Prosecutor’s Rape Theory is Absurd 369

Mistake of Fact to Sexual Assault 371

Her Lack of Physical Injuries Are Inconsistent With Her Story 372

What Did the Victim Lead Him to Believe? 373

Prior Sexual Relationships Goes to Consent 374

If He’s a Predator, Why Does He Stop? 376

Such a Violent Attack, You Expect Some Evidence 376

Regret is Not Rape 377

Going with the Sex is Consent 378

DISCUSSING SPILLOVER IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Consider Each Count Against Each Defendant Separately 381

Each Charge Must Stand on It’s Own 381

DISCUSSING WAR CRIMES IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Triple Murder in Iraq 383

DISCUSSING ALIBI IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

How Do They Account for His Whereabouts? 395

Alibi Instruction 396

DISCUSSING ABANDONMENT IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

399 How Can You Steal That Which Nobody Claims 399

DISCUSSING MONEY LAUNDERING IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

You Must Have an Intent to Conceal 401

DISCUSSING FRAUD IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

An Honestly Formed Belief Cannot be Fraudulent Intent 405

Good Faith is a Complete Defense 405

There is a Difference Between Fraud & Abuse 406

DISCUSSING CONSPIRACY IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

You Must Know of the Conspiracy to be a Conspirator 409

CONCLUDING – SHUTTING DOWN REBUTTAL IN CLOSING ARGUMENTS

How Are Innocent Men Convicted? 413

You Cannot Convict Because He’s a Jerk 414

You Know We Can Answer Anything That They Would Say 415

The State is Sandbagging 415

They Go First & Last 416

They Get Rebuttal Because They Have the Burden 417

Don’t be Swayed by Sympathy, Prejudice, or Passion 418

Find Him Not Guilty Because it is the Moral Thing to Do 419

Fear of an Innocent Man Going to Jail 420

They Will Attack Me Personally, Because They Have No Case 420

Jurors, Use Your Common Sense 421

Use Common Sense to Rebut Their Rebuttal 422

Do You Have the Courage to Acquit? 422

Your Common Sense Won’t Let You Fall for It 423

The Court is No Better Than It’s Jurors 423

Light Your Candles for the Constitution 423

In Criminal Cases, Nobody Wins 424

CLOSING ARGUMENTS QUOTES

Attitude 427

Bias 428

Character 428

Cops & Corruption 429

Cynical Prosecutors 429

Education 429

Emotion 430

Excuses 431

Facts & the Truth 432

Failure 432

Fools & Wisdom 434

Justice 436

Know When to Stop Talking 438

Lies, Liars, and Credibility 440

Planning & Preparing 445

Power & Corruption 446

Reasonable Doubt 447

Strategy 447

CLOSING CHARTS & DIAGRAMS

Reasonable Doubt Chart – With Definitions 451

Reasonable Doubt Chart – Without Definitions 452

States of Mind Mandating Acquittal 453

Mistake of Fact – Consent 454

Self-Defense 455

State of Mind – Online Child Sex Sting 456

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INTRODUCTION TO KICK-ASS CLOSINGS

Defending a criminal case at trial is an art form. Its origins date to ancient times, when Greek and Roman lawyers battled, orally, in criminal tribunals. Ancient advocates spent their lives training and practicing their oratory skills, which were passed down from generation to generation.

In modern courtrooms, few criminal cases go to trial. With oppressive sentencing guidelines and trial penalties imposed on those who dare contest their charges, guilty pleas are the norm in Federal and State Courts. As a result, there are few opportunities to watch experienced lawyers do battle in contested jury trials.

In modern times, how does one become a better trial lawyer, aside from trying jury trials? For me, I read dozens of trial advocacy books, attended many CLEs, scoured countless transcripts, and searched the internet looking for examples of how to deliver a kick-ass closing argument. What I found was disappointing. Almost all trial advocacy books contain theory, not substance, and they tend to minimize the importance of closing arguments. In addition, most transcripts contain boring recitations of the facts, patronizing jury speeches, and weak attempts at explaining reasonable doubt.

I was forced to learn by trying a lot of cases and learning from my successes, and even more importantly, from my failures. Thankfully, I practice law in a jurisdiction where there are no sentencing guidelines and few mandatory sentences. I am fortunate to take nearly every case to trial. Over two hundred contested jury trials have taught me many lessons. I firmly believe that a devastating closing argument, combined with a strong opening statement and skillful cross examinations, are key to creating reasonable doubt and winning at trial.

In this book, I set out to create a useful resource for new and experienced trial lawyers, so they can deliver devastating closing arguments with minimal prep time. This book does not focus on theory. It provides a simple and straightforward template that can be used in any criminal trial, along with hundreds of examples of winning arguments that can be crafted to fit the facts of your case.

In preparing this trial guide, I read countless trial transcripts and sourced my own experiences. I extracted the best examples of common closing argument topics, such as Burden Shifting, Credibility, and Reasonable Doubt. Then, I broke down the arguments into topics for quick reference. I also included powerful quotes and parables that can be used to drive a point home. Finally, I included charts and diagrams that can be used in closing arguments to visually demonstrate concepts such as Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Mistake of Fact, Self-defense, and others.

Used properly, this book can save you time, and increase the power and effectiveness of your closing arguments. More importantly, it will help save lives, and protect the freedom of those whom we defend.

When defending a criminal case, we must remember it is the prosecutor’s job to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. They must build a bridge over a river called “Reasonable Doubt.” Their bridge must be solid and well-constructed. It must span the river of Reasonable Doubt, otherwise, they have failed to meet their burden of proof.

A criminal defense lawyer’s job is destruction. We don’t build. We destroy. We sabotage. We wreak havoc. We pinpoint and attack the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Our goal is to destroy their case and leave it in ruins.

The defense’s closing argument should be the final bombing run on the prosecution’s bridge. It is our last chance to convince the jury that the bridge is weak, unsafe, and cannot be crossed. If done properly, a closing argument should cause the jury to stop and hesitate, to have doubt, and to acquit.

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