Drills

Closing Arguments Examples: Kick-Ass Closing Arguments Part 1: Closing Argument Template

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For the first three drills, instruct the witness to not be a jerk. Have them answer “yes” or “no.” If they can’t answer a question “yes” or “no” because the attorney asked them a confusing question, tell the witness to just sit there until the attorney gets it right. The focus on these drills is for the attorney to get the rhythm, pace, and feel of cross- examination, not to tangle with uncooperative witnesses. Consider having the instructor serve as the witness.

  • Drill 1: Short statements.
    1. Find any object that is in your workspace. Have the attorney describe the object, say, a coffee mug. The attorney can only use one new fact per question and needs to use a falling inflection. For the coffee mug, the attorney would say, “You are a cup. A coffee cup. White. With a handle. And you have a logo on the side. A green logo. The symbol of a coffee company, etc.” Rotate through the attorneys, finding a new object to describe for each attorney. Have the attorneys ask at least one or two one-word questions.
    2. As a progression, have the attorneys start with using tags, and then after two or three questions, have them work out of using tags.
  • Drill 2: Describe the action.
    1. Have half of the class shut their eyes. Then have the witness do some physical activity – some jumping jacks, some push-ups, walk a square that is four paces on each side, do a cart-wheel (space permitting). The attorney will then cross- examine the witness on that physical activity using short statements, one new fact per question, with a falling inflection. For a witness that ran in place, the cross might be, “You pushed off with your foot. Your right foot. And brought it into the air. At the same time, you move your arm. Your left arm. You made a fist with your left hand. And pushed that fist forward. At the same time, you brought your left foot down. From the air. Onto the ground, etc.”
    2. As a progression, have the attorneys start with using tags, and then after two or three questions, have them work out of using tags.
  • Drill 3: Describe the scene.
    1. Have the attorney describe the room that he or she is in (or another room that they are familiar with, like a local restaurant), to include sound levels, light levels, temperature, and smell. The attorney needs to use short statements, downward inflection, and only one new fact per question. Have other attorneys describe their favorite bar at the time they usually attend it, or their church when they usually attend it, or the coffee shop they usually go to.
  • Drill 4: The runaway witness.
    1. Modify one of the drills above. This time, instruct the witness to take a question and start rambling (“well, that depends on . . .). Have the attorney run through some witness control techniques (repeat the question, repeat the question using the witness’ name, state the inverse of the question).
  • Drill 5: Identifying danger words.
    1. Modify one of the drills above. Instruct the witness that anytime the attorney uses a danger word (a word that is really a conclusion based on other underlying facts), the witness will stand up and say, “Gotcha!”
  • Drill 6: Case specific.
    1. If the counsel have the basics down, have the counsel break out into teams to come up with a cross examination, based on one chapter, of one of the witnesses in US v. Archie. Bring an arguments worksheet for the counsel to use when developing the chapter.

Military Sexual Assault Defenses: Mistake of Fact Explained by a Military Defense Lawyer

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