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Anatomy of a Civil Trial


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deliberate. Hopefully, if you have highlighted your position this way and they understand it, the most vocal jurors can argue your case for you by repeating what you have said to the other jurors in the deliberation. Tis has always been an effective technique for me over the years.


Use Jury Instructions in Your Argument


Although the closing argument is mostly spent discussing the facts and why the facts must cause the jury to find in your client's favor, the law must be discussed. One useful technique is to try to discuss the several most important jury instructions and even put them on blow ups so that they can be highlighted to the jury. For example in a recent trial that involved a workplace safety issue and violation of OSHA regulations, the judge ultimately read the OSHA regulations to the jury as instructions. Te regulations can be read to the jury and explained to them how the facts showed the Defendant failed to comply with the regulations and was negligent. Tis is also critical when talking about damages. Te standard instruction on damages should be blown up as well as so that the jury can follow along as to each element of damages and what they can consider.


36 Trial Reporter / Spring 2012


Connecting with the Jury One of the most important concepts of the closing


is to connect with the jury so they can connect with your client. How do you do this? First, many trial lawyers speak to the jury not from a podium but rather in the well of the courtroom. Most judges allow you to do this but make sure you ask the court clerk that the particular judge will allow this. It is important to use notes as sparingly as possible. A useful guide is to write out the closing and then boil it down to a brief outline. You should speak directly to the jurors and usually go around the jury box and speak to as many of them as possible and have as much eye contact as possible. Tis gives you a real connection with individual jurors and will help when you tell them to discuss certain pieces of evidence when they go back and deliberate.


The Use of Demonstrative Aids Some studies suggest that jurors retain 85% of the


information they retain from what they see and less than 15% from what they hear. Good closing argument emphasize use of blow ups of the exhibits when discussing the evidence but sometimes interchange the blow ups with power point slides of particular documents, summaries of important points in your argument and jury instructions. You should use one or the other or both because the jury will follow your argument much easier by seeing the arguments, jury instructions and documents in front of them instead of just by hearing them.


Make Sure You Talk About Credibility Most trials will come down to which witness or expert


the jury ultimately believes. It is your job to persuade the jurors that your witnesses are more credible and you must do this by pointing out inconsistencies in lay witness testimony that causes the witness to not be believed or bias in expert witness testimony that also causes the expert testimony to be rejected. It is usually quite effective to impeach expert's credibility with the amount of time and money they make in testifying for the defense.


Make Sure the Jury Understands the Purpose of Damages


Te jury must understand that the overall purpose of


money damages is to make the victim whole, or to put the victim in the same position they were in immediately before the injury.


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