Gerry Spence & the Art of Advocacy

Professor James R. Elkins College of Law | West Virginia University





Gerry Spence on Closing Statements: "Closing the Deal--The Final Argument," in Gerry Spence, Win Your Case 223-278 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2005)

"The only cases that can be won in the final argument are those that have not been previously lost. On the other hand a good case can be lost in those fatal, final moments." [Spence, Win Your Case, at 224]

"We have asked the jury to trust us. But we must also trust ourselves. . . . We turn inward for our power. Is it there? Has it forsaken us? Will the words come? We feel a sense of helplessness. We try to locate the fear. Where is it? . . . We take a deep breath and look up at the jury. Then we hear our own voice . . ." [Id.]

Spence's Closing Argument
[video, 4:37 mins.] [New York Regional Seminar, 2006]

Spence: Simulated Closing--Lee Harvey Oswald case
[video, 4:36 mins.] [reasonable doubt; Spence's boy with the bird in his hand story] [full closing arguments]

Gerry Spence on Closing Argument
[transcribed presentation, regional seminar, 2002]

Spence's "Famous Final Plea" in Closing Argument
[Virginia Injury Lawyer Blog]

Brief Commentary on Spence's Closing in the Randy Weaver Trial

[Randy Weaver Trial homepage]


"Although the lawyer's range of choice is circumscribed by the evidence, by the substantive law, by procedural rules, and by the stock scripts that shape everybody's notions of what a closing argument should look like, lawyers nonetheless retain the pwoer to construct widely diverse tales beneath a superficial semblance of sameness and conventionality." [Anthony G. Amsterdam & Randy Hertz, An Analysis of Closing Arguments to a Jury, 37 N.Y. L.Sch. L. Rev. 55, 58 (1992)]

Philip N. Meyer, Making the Narrative Move: Observations Based upon Reading Gerry Spence's Closing Argument in the Estate of Karen Silkwood v. Kerr-Mcgee, Inc., 9 Clinical L. Rev. 229 (2002)

Ann M. Gill, The Oral Tradition of Gerry Spence in Pring v. Penthouse, 17 Sw. U. L. Rev. 693 (1988)

Drew Findling, Closing Argument: Tapping the Human Experience, 42 Mercer L. Rev. 659 (1991)

Closing Argument: Other Views

Using Your Voice in Closing Argument
[Charles L. Becton, Trial, 1997]

Closing Argument
[Winning Trial Advocacy Techniques blog]


How to Deliver Closing Arguments
[7:54 mins.] [Charles H. Rose]

Closing Arguments
[8:11 mins.] [Charles H. Rose]

What Is Closing Argument?
[2:15 mins.][summary description, criminal defense lawyer Kevin Hayslett]

Use of Metaphors in Closing Arguments
[1:35 mins.] [Herald Price Fahringer]

George Zimmerman Trial

Defense closing argument :: pt2 :: pt3

Conrad Murray Trial

Prosecution closing argument :: pt.2 :: pt.3 :: pt.4 :: pt.5 :: pt.6 :: pt.7 :: pt.8 :: pt.9 :: pt.10 :: pt.11 :: pt.12 :: pt.13 :: pt.14 :: pt.15

Defense closing argument :: pt.2 :: pt.3 :: pt.4 :: pt.5 :: pt.6 :: pt.7 :: pt.8 :: pt.9

Prosecution rebuttal argument :: pt.2 :: pt.3

Trial Judge's Instructions to the Jury

Verdict :: pt.2 :: pt.3

Casey Anthony Trial

Defense closing argument :: pt.2 :: pt.3 :: pt.4 :: pt.5 :: pt.6 :: pt.7 :: pt.8 :: pt.9

Prosecution closing argument :: pt.2

Catherine Wilkerson Trial

Closing Remarks of Defense Attorney "Buck" Davis
[9:54 mins.]

Interview with Catherine Wilkerson [8:29 mins.] :: [pt.2] [7:33 mins.] :: [pt.3] [7:41 mins.] :: [pt.4] [8:33 mins.]

Orange Taylor III was accused of killing an Eastern Michigan University student, Laura Dickinson

Eastern Michigan University Murder Trial: Defense Closing Argument :: [pt.2] :: [pt.3] :: [pt.4] :: [pt.5] :: [Mistrial] [Defense Lawyer Talks About the Mistrial] [Juror Speaks About Her Vote to Acquit] [Jury Votes to Convict]

Prosecution's Closing Argument in the EMU Case :: [pt.2] :: [pt.3 (fiber testimony)] :: [pt.4] :: [pt.5]

Taped Interview with the Police (3rd day of the trial)

Serologist Testimony

John Kenney Trial: Closing Arguments

New Development In John Kenney Murder Case

Jury Selection Starts for the John Kenney Murder Trial

Kenney Trial Jurors Visit Crime Scene

Day Two of the John Kenny Trial

Kenney Defense Portrays Victim As 'Aggressive'

Kenney Defends Actions To Jurors

Jury Begins Deliberations In Kenney Trial

Kenney Jurors Revisit Shooting Scene

Kenney Sentenced To Life Without Parole

[Search Warrant] [Motion for Change of Venue]

Mark Jensen Case: Closing Arguments

Opening Days of the Trial

Defense Gains Ground on Cross-Examination Of Witnesses

Teacher: Julie Jensen Said She Feared Husband

Judge: Jury Will See Dead Woman's Letter

Pornographic Pictures at Center Of Jensen Trial

Bank Robber Testifies in Jensen Trial [snitch testimony]

Phone Recordings Take Center Stage at Jensen Trial

Jensen's Defense Questions Accuracy of Lead Investigator

Jensen Trial: Family Doctor Testifies

Judge Delivers Mark Jensen His Sentence

Jensen's Attorney Reads Letter to Judge From Sons

For Jury, Decision Didn't Come Easily

Jensen Family Reacts to Verdict

Motion For Appeal Filed in Wife Poisoning Trial

John Henry Horton: Post Verdict Press Conference followed by Prosecutor's Closing Argument :: [pt.2] [Horton Found Guilty In 2nd Murder Trial] [Horton's first conviction was overturned based on the trial court's error in admitted evidence of an alleged incident of sexual molestation. See: State of Kansas v. John Henry Horton, 283 Kan. 44, 151 P.3d 9 (2007)]

Shawna Nelson Trial: Prosecution Closing Argument (Rebuttal) :: [pt.2] :: [pt.3] :: [Background on the Case]

Louise Woodward

Audio of State's Closing Argument

Testimony by Louise Woodward

Jesse Brooks Trial: Defense's closing arguments in Jesse Brooks trial

Lester Street Murder Trial

State's Closing Argument in the Lester Street Murder Trial

Opening Argument: Lester Street Murder Trial

Lester Trial Verdict

Closing Argument| Hollywood Films

Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" [alt. source]

The Verdict

A Time to Kill


Reenactment of Atticus Finch's Closing Argument in To Kill a Mockingbird
[Attorney John G. March performing Harper Lee's Atticus Finch for Black History Month]

Justice Robert H. Jackson's Closing Argument, Nuremberg, July 26, 1946 :: [The Nuremberg Trials] [Nuremberg War Crimes Trials Open] [Justice Robert H. Jackson Cross-Examines Defendant Hermann Goering at Nuremberg] [Robert H Jackson Cross Goering re Persecution of Jews] [Robert H Jackson Cross Exam of Speer] [Robert H Jackson, Goering & Lord Lawrence at Nuremberg] [Rudolf Hess at Nuremberg, Admitting He Faked Loss of Memory] [Nuremberg Trials Verdict]


Philip Meyer's Writings

Philip N. Meyer, "Desperate for Love": Cinematic Influences Upon a Defendant's Closing Argument to a Jury, 18 Vt. L. Rev. 721 (1994)

____________, "Desperate for Love II": Further Reflections on the Interpenetration of Legal and Popular Storytelling in Closing Arguments to a Jury in a Complex Criminal Case, 30 U.S.F. L. Rev. 931 (1996)

____________, "Desperate for Love III": Rethinking Closing Arguments as Stories, 50 S.C. L. Rev. 725 (1999)


Michael S. Lief, H. Mitchell Caldwell & Benjamin Bycel, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: Greatest Closing Arguments in Modern Law (New York: Scribner, 1998)

Michael S. Lief & H. Mitchell Caldwell, The Devil's Advocates: Greatest Closing Arguments in Criminal Law (New York: Scribner, 2006)

[The Devil's Advocates includes a chapter on Gerry Spence's closing argument in the Randy Weaver/Ruby Ridge killings case.]

Joel J. Seidemann, In The Interest of Justice: Great Opening and Closing Arguments of the Last 100 Year (New York: Regan Books, 2004)


H. Mitchell Caldwell, The Art and Architecture of Closing Argument, 76 Tul. L. Rev. 961 (2002)

Charles L. Cantrell, Prosecutorial Misconduct: Recognizing Errors in Closing Argument, 26 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 535 (2003)

J. Allison DeFoor, II, Prosecutorial Misconduct in Closing Argument, 7 Nova L.J. 443 (1983)

Daniel P. Levitt, Rhetoric in Closing Argument, 17 Litigation 17 (1991)

James H. Roberts, Jr., The SEC of Closing Arguments, 23 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 203 (1999)

Stephen A.Saltzburg, Closing Argument Vouching: Crossing the Line, 18 Crim. Just. 42 (2003)

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