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Jodi Arias Trial: 5 Facts About Closing Arguments

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Jodi Arias' defense attorney, Kirk Nurmi, made his closing arguments in her murder trial on Friday, telling jurors that even if they don't like Arias, "that shouldn't matter," reports the Associated Press.

"Nine days out of 10, I don't like Jodi Arias," Nurmi said -- though, upon objection, the judge told jurors to disregard that statement.

That may seem surprising, but Nurmi is not the first attorney to resort to unusual persuasive tactics in an attempt to sway the jury, some which are not allowed by the court.

Here are five facts about the different -- and sometimes unorthodox -- closing arguments made in criminal trials:

1. No New Evidence.

Once either the prosecution or defense stops calling witnesses and introducing evidence, they rest their case.

Closing arguments exist to condense and crystallize arguments made by both sides after they have finished presenting evidence and cross-examining witnesses, and they cannot contain any new evidence.

2. Attorneys Can Object.

When either side is giving their closing arguments, the attorney for the other side can object to something improper, causing the judge to stop the closing argument and rule on the objection.

This tactic, however, typically backfires in practice, as the objecting attorney may look like she is just being rude and interrupting, even if the opposing attorney calls your client a liar.

3. Visual Aids Are OK.

Attorneys like to use posters, overhead projectors and even whiteboards to illustrate their arguments. The court will generally allow this for:

  • Reviewing video taped testimony,
  • Displaying crime scene photos,
  • Displaying testimony quotes, and
  • Displaying maps and diagrams of crime scenes.

Attorneys, however, are not permitted to use visual aids to state an opinion, like showing a picture of the defendant with the word "Guilty" on her face.

4. The Prosecution Goes First, and Also Gets a Rebuttal.

In most states and in federal court, prosecutors give their closing argument first. The prosecution also gets to reserve time for a final rebuttal closing argument, which is heard after the defense team's closing argument.

5. Can't Discuss Consequences of Verdict.

It is improper for either the defense or prosecution to attempt to persuade a jury by discussing what horrible consequences might occur if the verdict is either guilty or not guilty.

This means Jodi Arias' defense attorney may not ask jurors during closing argument to consider whether the death penalty is legal, moral, or even if she deserves it.

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