Closing Arguments are the Mona Lisa’s of Mock Trial. Closing Arguments require you to take down notes and create an argument on the spot using evidence that was admitted during the trial while including your theme and theory. It’s the single most important task that can either make or break your case. It’s the attorney’s only chance to stand before the jury and argue their case theory without having to worry about objections or interference.
Closing argument are the most challenging as you must tie two or more hours of testimony for the most important facts and show the jury that you have proven everything the opening attorney promised. Closing arguments are the time to answer questions that the opening attorney presented in the beginning and leave the jury with a clear, clean cut, painting in their heads.
Focusing on a few solid points will really drive home the jury. Elicit the most important facts that came out on the record. Having good content is not difficult, given the argument is logical. The one thing that separates team is good presentation to great presentation. The jury is most likely paying more attention to the way you move and speak than the actual content. Emotion, conviction, confidence, and passion are the most important factors in swaying a jury in your favor and getting the most points.
- Remember Primacy, Recency, and Frequency
- Remember Move About The Well
Talk to Your Team
Ask each attorney and each witness what the three most important facts are from his role and use that information to creation three important facts for your speech. Closing Arguments are a summation of all the key facts of your case and it’s important to consult your teammates to learn about the important things they will put in their exams.
Always write a draft and have it reviewed by your teammates and coaches. This will help you get the vivid imagery that your closing needs.
Time Your Closing
It’s important to stay under time (If your Mock Trial program has time limits for closings and openings). Don’t go over time or go under time. The time you get (usually 5 minutes) should be more than enough for you to say everything that needs to be said. You don’t want to lose points for going over time. It’s good to trim the useless facts and keep your speech precise.
Rule of Three & Primacy, Recency, Frequency
Remember these rules for everything. Your jury hears things that are First Heard, Recently Heard, and Frequently Heard. It’s also best to keep three important points to talk about in your closing.
Comment on Admitted Facts
If you comment on evidence that was not introduced, it would be considered a mistrial in a real courtroom. In Mock Trial, the jury will just deduct points, or the opposing team may expose your error.
Practice Is Key!
There is nothing better than practice. Practice your speech in front of your teammates and coaches to get feedback from them. Practice your speech in front of other people, as well, to get even more feedback from a different perspective.
Prosecution/Plaintiff ALWAYS speaks last
People always forget this but Prosecution/Plaintiff ALWAYS speaks. It’s because the burden falls on Prosecution/Plaintiff and they will always close last. This provides Prosecution/Plaintiff a rebuttal to rebut opposing counsel’s arguments or flip their theme. When you’re on Prosecution/Plaintiff, listen to the Defense closing and try to flip their speech.
No Objections are Allowed
As always, Objections are NEVER allowed on Openings and Closings.
Silence Speaks Louder than Words
In Public Speaking, the most powerful tool you can use is a pause. By taking healthy pauses between a point, your words will resonate with the Jury and will serve to bring their attention back to you.
Paragraph One: Captivate Your Audience
- First paragraph should focus on repeating the theme and theory. It should be able to draw the Jury into your side of the case. The paragraph should focus on rehashing the egregious facts in the other side’s case.
- Be sure to utilize pauses, voice fluctuation, and tone changes to capture the jury.
Paragraph Two: Burden of Proof
- Prosecution/Plaintiff should acknowledge the burden of proof. If you are on Defense, emphasize the burden the other side holds
- Burden of Proof differs between Civil and Criminal cases and explain your Burden of Proof.
Paragraph Three, Four, and Five: Walk Through The Facts
- Organize the case topically as this is the most persuasive organization style. Similarly, this means you should avoid chronological, witness-by-witness accounts.
- Rule of Three & Primacy, Recency, and Frequency. That means, each of these three paragraphs should highlight an important fact that will advance your side’s case and will tell the jury the story of what happened through these paragraphs. In other words, people remember what happens first, what happens last, and what happens often.
- Use Exhibits. If a document or photo was admitted that may be useful for your closing, make use of it. In addition, it’s a good idea to hold evidence in front of the jury to visualize your point and to captivate their emotions.
- Bury the Bad Facts. If a witness was hammered on cross, try to rehabilitate them during the closing argument by pointing the jury back in the correct direction and reminding them of the important facts.
- Attack. If an opposing witness is being paid to testify, or has something to gain, be sure to bring it up in your closing. Likewise, if an opposing witness has a bad past, bring that up.
- Comment on Broken Promises. If the opposing side made any promises on opening and they were broken, bring them up and hammer them for it. For instance, pointing out a broken promise is an easy way to damage their credibility.
- FLIP THEIR THEME. If there is any way to twist their theme to your favor, and it’s clever and honest, do it. However, if you cannot flip their theme or you feel it’s too weak, it’s probably NOT worth to attempt to flip their theme. Above all, a botched flipped theme won’t go over well with the Jury or the Judge.
Paragraph Six: End Strong
- End by leading the jury back to the theme
- Sum up your case in one sentence
- Make a strong emotional connection with the jury