Saturday, August 4, 2007

Name-Calling in Closing Argument

See Janelle L. Davis, Comment, Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Names Could Get Me a Mistrial: An Examination of Name-Calling in Closing Argument in Civil Cases, 42 Gonz. L. Rev. 133-171 (2006-2007), Westlaw, LexisNexis.

An introductory section (at 136-42) offers a good overview of the law of closing argument -- advocates may not: interject their personal beliefs, refer to inadmissible evidence, invite the jury to speculate on missing evidence, misstate the law, make Golden Rule arguments, argue for jury nullification, appeal to passion and prejudice. And of course, this last -- appealing to passion and prejudice is where name-calling comes in, and that's the rest of the comment. Ms. Davis reviews cases from around the country and considers the applicable Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

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