Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Illustrations For Closing Arguments in Criminal Cases

You might justifiably be wondering why does a criminal defense attorney have a picture of a cock roach in a blog about white collar crime! (And please hold the comments or jokes about criminal lawyers and roaches!)

The point I wanted to make in this post is about the importance to lawyers, (both civil and criminal), of using illustrations in closing argument at trial. The relevance of the cock roach will become apparent below! As the son of a Baptist preacher, I once marveled at how my father kept his congregations enthralled through his use of poignant or funny illustrations. I have learned that the same is true for jurors. By weaving in both quotes and illustrations, a good trial attorney can help keep the jury interested and focused on the points he or she is making.

For example, in one of my public corruption trials, (as a former federal prosecutor), I wanted to emphasize to the jury the point that the defendant politician knew about all the corrupt activities going on around him. To illustrate the point, I told the jury that, "Not even a bashful cock roach could sneak into his business without him knowing about it!" I also used a quote from the Bible, during the same closing argument, "Do not lie, do not steal, do not deceive one another." I won my case!

Now, to be honest, I doubt very seriously that I won this federal criminal case simply by using illustrations in my closing argument! But I AM convinced that, by using illustrations, a trial lawyer helps keep the jury focused and better explains important points. And I'll bet even an intelligent cock roach would agree with me on this point!

1 comment:

  1. Richard,
    I seen that roach before, cept he weren't no illustrator.