Dr. Manges PhD | Forensic Psychologist | Expert Witness
Final Argument is more than a review of the facts previously presented at trial. It is a time when you can direct the jury toward testimony that you believe crucial and point out inconsistencies between what your opponent offered at opening and how they have not delivered as promised.
Aristotle stated the rational for Final Argument best when he cited the definition of an Epilogue:
“You must 1. Make the audience well-disposed towards yourself and ill-disposed towards your opponent, 2. magnify or minimize the leading facts, 3. excite the required state of emotions in your hearers, and 4. refresh their memories.”
A trial is like a play unfolding with the courtroom as the stage. The litigants and their story are unknown to the jury. Conflict is expected and jurors are directed to solve the mystery and decide blame.
Psychologically, the juror comes to the believe that each side has a vested in interest in whatever testimony is presented and ascribe a rationale as to why certain information is withheld. Put another way, a juror will not accept things that face values but rather, with skepticism. Any concession made by an attorney will be accepted fully and will ether strengthen or weaken their client’s case dependent on how the juror rationalizes why the information was presented.
Jurors believe that attorneys present their clients with their best light. Testimony can be no better, but perhaps worse then offered. Final Argument is a means by which the attorney, you as advocate, can overcome inconsistencies and offer a rationale for why certain facts validate your case and invalidate your opponent’s position.
Consider Final Argument a time of providing insights, raising questions about opposing counsel’s position and offering cohesion for disconnected facts.
Meta-communication is a concept used by linguists and those who study communications to describe the concept beyond the content of the words used. It is the canvas of a painting, the movement of a symphony. Successful Final Argument has a goal the meta-communication of conveying understanding of what has transpired. Final argument does this without offending the listener that they were not attentive enough when first presented to hear it from themselves.
During a rather long and difficult trial an attorney had a delay in the start of the day’s proceedings and had the opportunity to drive her five year old daughter to school. After having watched a video of Cinderella, the little girl re-enacted the role of fairy godmother every chance she had. On the way to school the little girl, using her pinwheel as a magic wand turned to her mother and said:
“Make three wishes mommy and I’ll grant them.”
First I wish for world peace. She swung her want and said “granted.” My next wish is to give food to the hungry people. “Granted” came the reply. Since the attorney now relieved her guilt for worldly events she turned somewhat more personal and asked “Give me the right words to convince this jury.” The five year old fairy godmother got a stern look on her face while waving her wand madly and said “I’ll need more power for this!”
Not unlike the fairly tale, to convince people at the time of Final Argument will take enormous amounts of power. Final Arguments are not won at the time they are presented. Rather, when they are successful it is because they have started in voir dire.
Dr. Kenneth Manges, is a Forensic Psychologist and vocational expert who offers consultation and comprehensive evaluations across the United States. His analyses have been recognized for their clarity and scientific rigor. He offers reasonably certain opinions about the psychological impact of physical injury or emotional trauma as they effect earning capacity and the impact of loss on future work and quality of life. Well regarded in the litigation arena, he is a trusted and respected authority and offers evaluations that have been consistently upheld in both state and federal courts.