The Too Powerful Closing Argument
As was discussed and illustrated in the last post, the trial technique of channeling the deceased in closing argument can be extremely effective in bringing the case to life in the courtroom. Counsel speaks as the deceased, telling the jury how the deceased feels.
An example of the power of channeling in argument and its potential downside is reported in the Montana case of Heidt v. Argani, 214 P.3d 1255 (2009). Plaintiff’s attorney in that case was Steven Harman (pictured here). I’ve witnessed him channel when I served on the faculty for Montana’s School of Law Advanced Trial Advocacy course and can attest to the fact that he can be very persuasive with this technique
The Montana Supreme Court’s opinion described the closing and how it affected the jurors, one in particular, as follows:
“Heidt’s case against Argani was tried in the District Court before a jury in October, 2008. On the fifth day of trial Heidt’s attorney presented his closing argument to the jury. Most of the argument was delivered as a first-person narrative by Heidt’s attorney who assumed the persona of Heidt’s deceased husband to recount the events leading to his death. On appeal Heidt’s attorney describes his presentation as ‘