Closing Argument Definition and Legal Meaning
On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Closing Argument, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.
What is Closing Argument?
It is concluding or summing up argument of the attornies or lawyers of both the parties on a particular case, after all evidence had been put forward and nothing else is left to be discussed. This closing argument is started by the plaintiffs lawyer and after that the defendants lawyer may reply in his/her defence. No new evidence may be produced. It normally ends with the attornies asking or requesting for the final verdict.
History and Meaning of Closing Argument
A closing argument, also known as a closing statement, is a critical part of the litigation process in which an attorney provides a summary of the evidence presented and makes a last effort to persuade the judge or jury to decide in favor of their client.
The use of closing arguments dates back to ancient Greece, where the Attic orators would make a final plea to the jury before the magistrate rendered the decision. Today, closing arguments happen in virtually every type of trial, from criminal cases to civil litigation.
During the closing argument, attorneys cannot introduce new evidence or witnesses that were not previously presented during the trial. Instead, they must rely on the evidence presented earlier and craft their narrative around it to persuasively argue their case.
Examples of Closing Argument
In a personal injury case, the plaintiff's attorney may use their closing argument to summarize the damages their client has suffered and request that the jury award the maximum amount of compensation available.
In a criminal case, the defense attorney might use their closing argument to argue that there is reasonable doubt in the prosecution's case and that the defendant should be found not guilty.
A commercial litigation attorney may use their closing argument to persuade a judge that their client did not breach a contract and should not be held liable for damages.
Legal Terms Similar to Closing Argument
- Opening statement - The initial argument made by an attorney at the beginning of a trial to introduce the evidence.
- Direct examination - The questioning of a witness by the attorney that called them to give testimony.
- Cross-examination - The questioning of a witness by the opposing attorney to test their credibility and accuracy.