Summation Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Summation, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Summation?

(n) Summation is the final argument made by the attorney summing up his points and supporting his cause based on the findings during the trial to convince the judge or jury

History and Meaning of Summation

Summation is one of the key components of a trial. It is the final opportunity for an attorney to persuade a judge or jury to see things from their client's perspective. Essentially, it is a summary of the key points and arguments that have been presented throughout the trial, with the goal of convincing the judge or jury to rule in favor of the attorney's client. The origins of summation can be traced back to ancient Rome, where it was common practice for attorneys to deliver final speeches in the courtroom.

Examples of Summation

  1. In a criminal trial, the prosecutor will deliver a summation to the jury, outlining all of the evidence they have presented and arguing that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

  2. In a civil trial, the plaintiff's attorney will give a summation to the jury, summarizing the evidence presented in the case and arguing that their client is entitled to damages.

  3. During a bench trial (a trial where there is no jury), the attorney will typically give a summation to the judge, urging them to rule in favor of their client based on the evidence presented.

Legal Terms Similar to Summation

  1. Opening statement - the first statement given by an attorney in a trial, used to outline their case and tell the judge or jury what they will be arguing.

  2. Closing argument - similar to summation, but the term typically refers to the final statements made by attorneys after all of the evidence has been presented.

  3. Direct examination - when an attorney questions their own witness in court.

  4. Cross-examination - when an attorney questions a witness from the other side in court.