What is the biggest mistake a lawyer makes when making closing arguments?
- Being long-winded and/or obnoxious, repetitive, rambling, imprecise, boring.
- But here’s the kicker: if you are clear and concise, then what you think are “in the bag” issues may not be, what you think are minor points may be major points in the court’s opinion. And so if you ignore the “in the bag” or “minor” points, then the court might hold that against you. In other words, it’s impossible to know if you’ve said too much or too little. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Closing arguments can drive you mad, sometimes.
- Believing the court didn’t make up its mind long before closing argument.
- But here’s the kicker: if the court really hasn’t made up its mind already (it has been known to happen), then you can’t in good conscience “phone in” your closing argument because i) that’s unprofessional and unethical; and ii) you don’t want to wonder what might have been had you tried your best.
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