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

“Rape Trauma Syndrome”

Not in DSM IV-R, but recognized widely; U.S. v. Houser, 36 M.J. 392 (CMA 1993) : extensive explanation of “stages” of “rape trauma model”; expert need not meet or treat victim; use the cases as precedent, but avoid the label “rape trauma syndrome,” because this phrase is easily attacked;

Counter-normative behavior

Counter-intuitive behavior; congruence with issues in rape trauma syndrome, but without the label; many different professions can testify from experience w/ victims; need not meet or treat victim; a better way to explain victim behavior than rape trauma syndrome;


Many victims meet diagnosis; BUT many do not: DSM IV-R is vria, a useful listing of victim reactions to trauma;

Explaining delays

This is more common than not; self-blame, concern others will not believe, or will not act, or will protect the assailant; concern about repercussions with mutual friends of victim & offender (including in the military unit); not wanting to ruin “friend’s” life; shame in society; being labeled as promiscuous;

Explaining inconsistencies

Explain newly remembered details who can testify to trauma behavior?

ER social worker

Victim behavior (disjointed, incomplete account of things, remembering omitted details, reluctance to discuss, flat affect, all counter-normative behavior is typical of victim of trauma); cannot testify victim is trauma victim, but argue that consistency leads to no other conclusion; avoids attack on “special interest in sex crimes” for sexual assault counselors, SANEs, etc.; panel members know trauma, even if they do not think of sexual assault in same category; better if opinion NOT based on
particular victim;

  • Psychologists/psychiatrists may also testify re: PTSD; can be non-treating expert re: rape trauma; PTSD diagnosis needs treatment of this victim;
  • Police officer with experience in sexual assault
  • Rape crisis counselor with hundreds of experiences
  • Rape crisis workers, counselors, administrators; be sure they know both experience & theory, or teach them; subject to bias claim, but have lots of experience, may have academic knowledge;
  • SANE: treatment, medical hearsay witness; can be expert on victim behavior; may confuse roles; if treated victim, cross-exam re: actions of this victim can be bad for government, good for DC; suggest using neutral, non-treating behaviors expert;

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

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