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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Trump on Closing Arguments

Trump on argument sequence

He happens to be right. It is quite unfair that the prosecution gets to argue last, although I have never known a Republican to complain about that in the trials of anyone else.

I actually know something about the origins of the sequence, at least in some jurisdictions. In the late nineteenth century there was a great trial lawyer named Daniel Voorhees, who was a major figure in my book, John Brown's Spy.

He was also a senator from Indiana, who had been a Copperhead during the Civil War and, as a congressman, had been one of the major opponents of the Thirteenth Amendment.

In those days, senators could practice law, and Voorhees had been almost unbeatable in a series of high-profile trials, especially because the argument sequence had the prosecutor arguing first, then the defense, with no rebuttal. The sequence was specifically changed to add rebuttal in order to give the over matched prosecutors a chance at winning convictions.

(In 1859, before he was elected to congress, Voorhees was defense counsel for John E. Cook, who was arrested following his participation in John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry. It was one of the few trials he lost. Cook was convicted and hanged, even though Voorhees had convinced him to provide a confession implicating others, thinking he had a deal.)


Posted by Steve Lubet on May 28, 2024 at 02:04 PM | Permalink


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