Published on March 1st, 2013 | by Trey Cox


Some Pointers on Delivering the Summation

A. Where to Stand – Counsel should maintain a respectful distance of about eight to ten feet from the jurors, standing at the center line of the jury box. The argument should be delivered from this respectful distance with no charging to the rail of the jury box or placing your hand upon the jury rail itself. If possible, try to avoid placing a podium between you and your audience, the jury. It creates an unnecessary barrier.

B. Movement – A certain amount of hand and body movement will enliven your presentation and increase the attentiveness of the jurors. Gestures can be used to emphasize important points or to accent differences between your case and your oppositions. Excessive movement such as constantly returning to the podium to review your notes is distracting and will undermine your credibility.

C. Visuals -A visual aid, such as a demonstrative exhibit that you build by attaching actual exhibits from the trial, can be extremely valuable during summation. Counsel is generally free to use any exhibit that has been admitted into evidence. Counsel may also create a visual display solely for the purpose of final argument.

D. How Long to Talk – The length of the argument is immaterial. Only its effectiveness matters. You should talk for as long or as short as you can keep a jury engaged. But, the longer you go, the more likely that your closing may be misperceived as defensive in nature.

E. Do Not Script Your Argument – By the end of the case, it has always been enough to outline the points to be made and to group photocopies of the testimony and the exhibits to use with each of these points. These become, in effect, a living outline of the summation.

F. Do Not Read or Memorize – It is a mistake to write and read your final argument. Memorization will yield an affected presentation and carries an extreme risk that you will forget your place or leave out some crucial part.

G. Do not Reintroduce Yourself, But Do Thank the Jurors – By the final argument it should be unnecessary to reintroduce yourself and your co-counsel. Every summation should begin by thanking the jurors. This has nothing to do with advocacy or sycophantic appeals. They have truly fulfilled an important civic duty, sometimes at great personal cost or inconvenience and their importance should be recognized. It is on the other hand all too easy to overdo the acknowledgments. A simple thank you on behalf of yourself and your clients is sufficient. It is a matter of simple courtesy.

About the Author

specializes in courtroom fights between businesses. His jury trial experience and courtroom success have earned him the distinction of being Board Certified as a Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Trey represents Fortune 500 corporations, entrepreneurs, and leading firms in a wide array of industries. His dedication to his clients and winning track record have repeatedly earned him recognition as one of the top trial lawyers in the country.

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