QUOTABLE QUOTES: “By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth.” -George Carlin
I watched the closing arguments in the George Zimmerman trial on Thursday and with all due respect the prosecutor (Bernie de la Rionda) did a lousy job in his presentation. It’s hard to describe all the things he missed, did wrong or didn’t do at all. I kept finding myself muttering “Idiot!” at the TV. He rambled, he talked past the close, he failed to hammer home important points, his delivery sucked and his grand finale was weak as milk. It was major suckage.
Now, I understand the gentleman in question has successfully tried a lot of cases and won, but if that closing argument is his modus operandi I have to wonder how. And maybe he’ll win this time, too, but if he does it won’t be because he’s good at closing arguments. If that had been a timeshare presentation he’d have found himself at the bottom of the line the next morning, you know, like right after he’d tried to close a deal by saying something like “What do I have to do to get you to buy from me today”.
On Friday I got to see the defendant’s lead attorney, Mark O’Mara, give his closing argument. (It was the other defense attorney who started his opening statement in this murder case with a knock-knock joke. ) O’Mara, who did a great job during the trial itself, was measured, linear and presented his case calmly in closing. It was so measured and calm, in fact, that the monotony nearly put me to sleep. I was not impressed by either his argument or his delivery. And toward the end, IMO, he insulted the jury. No sale.
And finally a second prosecutor, John Guy (who also gave the opening statement for the prosecution at the trial), gave the closing rebuttal argument. OK, I’ll concede on this one. John Guy brought it home. He had me at Hello. It was a thing of beauty to watch, as good as I’ve ever seen. Was it enough to convince the jury that George Zimmerman committed either murder or manslaughter? Time will tell, but that isn’t really the issue I’m addressing here.
This isn’t the first time I’ve shaken my head in disbelief at the incompetence of many trial attorneys (both prosecution and defense) during closing arguments, and I have come to the conclusion that they not only don’t know how to sell their cases, they especially don’t know how to close.
So for any good closer/trainer in the biz looking for a new career, may I suggest you start a training service for trial attorneys? They sure the hell need it!
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