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Closing Arguments in Trials

Closing arguments are just that – arguments. Counsel is given wide latitude to connect facts that are in evidence and bring them to their logical conclusion. However, there are certain areas that must be avoided. Generally, counsel should not inflame the passions or prejudice of a jury. They should not use the Golden Rule (i.e., “would you have done this?”). They should not talk about the “community.”


· Sulton v. HealthSouth Corp., 400 S.C. 412 (2012) “Closing arguments must be confined to evidence in the record and reasonable inferences therefrom.”


· Branham v. Ford Motor Co., 390 S.C. 203 (2010) An attorney should not make a closing argument that is calculated to arouse passion or prejudice.


· State v. Northcutt, 372 S.C. 207 (2007) The trial judge is granted wide discretion with handling “the range of propriety” of a party’s closing argument.


· State v. White, 246 S.C. 502 (1965) The State made improper closing arguments when they asked the jury to consider their wives, sisters, daughters, and mothers.