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Closing Statement

The opening statement and the closing argument have much more in common that one would imagine. Your opening argument can be very helpful for creating a closing statement. You can not only take your thesis statement from the opening argument but also use the argument to stay on topic when developing the closing statement.

Simply retelling the argument in your closing statement is not a good writing strategy: not only will it make the text too long, but you’ll likely fail to convince the audience since they have already heard the opening argument. Briefly summarize the argument, using your own words to make the closing statement as convincing as possible.

At any stage of the closing statement writing process, you need to have your audience in mind. What opinion do you want your listeners to have after you are done reading the closing argument? Do you need to change their views on the matter or should your closing statement support the ideas the listeners already have? Picturing your audience while writing will give you an insight into what to write exactly.

One of the most common mistakes done by writers of unsuccessful closing statement writers is worrying that a short argument is not convincing enough and adding unnecessary details to their writing. To keep the audience focused on your words, don’t expect them to carefully listen to a 15-minute closing argument without shifting their attention. Make your statement short but powerful – this is how to make an impact with your words.

To make sure your closing statement makes a strong impression on your audience, use two tricks that are very popular in the legal community. First, use some visual aids for your closing argument. You can use graphs, photos, evidence, or simply visual fragments of your statement to support your idea. Second, don’t present a plain text to your listeners. Throw in a quote or anecdote that is relevant to the situation in question. That way your closing statement will sound not only persuasive, but also memorable thanks to the entertainment factor.

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There are several defining characteristics of a closing statement. First of all, any reference to a closing statement is usually referring to one presented at the end of a legal trial, though it can sometimes mean the final statement of a professional debate, or the conclusion of a speech. All three of these types of statements share similar qualities, however.

A closing statement must be persuasive, because it is delivered by one who supports a particular side of an argument. In the legal sense, a closing statement is delivered by the attorney on either side of the case: the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney. If the defendant or plaintiff, the person or company on each side of the case, is unrepresented, meaning without a lawyer to argue on his or her behalf, he or she has the option to deliver a closing statement of his or her own creation.

A closing statement’s initial purpose is to summarize the findings of the trial, which has already taken place before the statement is delivered. The findings of the trial include anything of merit that has been discussed or discovered throughout the case, such as what kind of evidence has been presented, and what sort of information the witnesses for both the prosecution and defense have contributed. The verdict in most trials is decided by a jury of twelve citizens, or by the judge overseeing the case. Either way, the closing statement should summarize and present the case in a way that convinces the judge or jury that the speaker’s side of the argument is the correct one. If you are the prosecuting attorney, you want your statement to conclude for the jury that the defendant is guilty of whatever he or she has been charged with. If you are the defense attorney, you want your statement to conclude that your client, the defendant, is innocent of said charge.

A closing statement needs to incorporate a few key elements in order to accomplish its goal, to persuade those listening of a particular fact or idea. These elements should be organized and addressed to both the jury and the judge, who are responsible for the verdict and the possible sentence, respectively. These elements include:

The way things stood at the beginning of the trial: Your statement should begin by detailing the state of affairs when the trial began, whether that was this morning or five months ago (the length of a statement correlates with the length of the trial, in most cases). This can include the charges laid against the defendant, their relationship to the plaintiff, and the circumstances that led to those charges being pressed. Any background information that you deem important to the verdict should be mentioned at the start of your statement.

What has developed since: This part of the statement is more like a summarization of the trial itself. This is the part of your statement that should include any piece of evidence or testimony from a witness that favors your side of the argument. Anything that casts doubt upon the innocence of your client should, of course, be left out of your closing statement, unless you can cast doubt on that particular piece of evidence or witness testimony. If a particular piece of evidence appears to have been tampered with, or the story of one of the witnesses seems unreliable, this is the area of your statement in which to bring up those doubts, and share your reasoning with those listening. This part of the statement is dedicated to summarizing the trial in a biased way, attempting to make your side of the case appear to be the correct one, beyond a doubt.

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Conclusions to be drawn from the trial: After you’ve summarized, you’ll want to explain the way you have interpreted the events of the trial, and why that interpretation makes you correct. Drawing on particular testimony or evidence, you want to explain why the jury or judge should side with you and your client. This is admittedly much easier if your client is truly innocent of whatever he or she is being charged with, by the way. The important things to include here are the presentation of evidence from both sides, the testimony of witnesses from both sides, and any aspect of those things that work in your favor, leaving out anything that makes the other side look good.

Final argument: The final words of a closing statement are often very passionate, demonstrating the importance of justice, and explaining how you and your client have used the legal system to prove guilt, if you’re prosecuting, or innocence, if you’re defending. Whatever you say in the final sentences of your closing statement, make sure your words will leave a lasting impression on the judge or jury. As stated above, these are the final words to be considered before a verdict is reached.

Although it is not against the rules, most attorneys choose not to object during the other side's closing arguments. However, the plaintiff's counsel may rebut the defense's closing argument. During this rebuttal, the plaintiff counters the defense's points in their closing argument. The plaintiff (prosecution) is allowed to rebut because they have the burden of proof. As the defense does not have the burden of proof, they can choose to forgo a closing statement due to the legal concept of being innocent until proven guilty.

A famous closing argument example is in the trial of former football star O.J. Simpson. O.J. Simpson was accused of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. The attorney for O.J. Simpson, Johnnie Cochran, delivered the famous line, "...if it doesn't fit, you must acquit" in reference to a pair of gloves that were supposedly left at the crime scene by the real killer. The prosecution asserted that the gloves belonged to O.J. Simpson, who must have dropped them when fleeing the scene after murdering two people. The defense, however, argued that those gloves were much too small to belong to O.J. Simpson and indicated the presence of a different killer. O.J. Simpson, the defendant, was found not guilty.

The closing argument used in the trial of O.J. Simpson is perhaps one of the most famous closing arguments.

The following steps detail how to write a closing argument:

As each case is unique and distinct from other cases, many different themes can be incorporated in the closing arguments. Themes also vary depending on the type of trial, whether civil or criminal.

A closing argument outline example that shows how to write a closing argument is as follows:

An effective closing statement template begins with: "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury..." and states an interesting hook. Begin incorporating a theme right after the hook. After the hook, begin getting more specific and identify precisely how the burden of proof was met by one side but not the other. Transition into discussing the laws and facts. State the facts of the case in story format, such as, in the case of the defense, "On (insert date of crime here) my client (name) was performing (activity) and therefore could not have committed (insert crime here)." Mention weakness, such as "Although (action) may suggest my client's guilt, this is incorrect for (insert reasons here)." Then, anticipate the other side's argument by saying, "Although the other side will argue (insert argument here), I have proven that (insert refuting evidence here)." Then, clarify the jury instructions and end with a "Thank you."

As a debate closing statement example, take the hypothetical case of a husband, Bob, who allegedly murdered his wife, Susan. The defenses' closing argument example could look like this:

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I would like to ask the question, how can someone be in two places at once? Over the past month of deliberations, the prosecution has attempted to state that my client, Bob, killed his wife, Susan, around midnight on August 19, 2000. This, however, is impossible, as seen by the fact that my client has an alibi. At the time and date in question, Bob was boarding a flight to France, and Susan was sleeping in their Seattle home. Although no witnesses have come forward to support Bob, he does have a plane ticket and luggage tags showing when he arrived at the airport. Although the prosecution may try to state that Bob could have printed out fake luggage tags, this is an absurd claim. So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I implore you to check not guilty on the verdict form. Thank you."

It’s important to carefully review the mortgage closing statement, to ensure that everything is correct and to check for any discrepancies.

The Truth in Lending Disclosure provides important information about the cost of credit, including your annual percentage rate (APR).

If you’re selling a home at a profit, you’ll need the closing statement to record the details of the sale when you file your taxes.

This same information is also reported on the Closing Disclosure if your loan requires you to receive one.


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What To Write In A Closing Statement

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