Closing Argument: A Comprehensive Analysis || By Philip M. Burlington, Barbara Green and Chris Carlyle
March 5, 2015
This is the first in a lengthy series of articles which will attempt to do what has not been done before: collect, organize, and analyze Florida case law addressing improprieties in closing arguments in civil cases. The need for this work is clear. For over 20 years appellate judges have commented on the great frequency with which these issues arise and the apparent unwillingness of some lawyers to conform their arguments to the dictates of the law.
One judge’s frustration was expressed with notable bluntness:
If attorneys do not recognize improper argument, they should not be in a courtroom. If trial attorneys recognize improper argument and persist in its use, they should not be members of The Florida Bar.
Luce v. State, 642 So.2d 4 (Fla. 2d DCA 1994) (J. Blue, concurring). That comment apparently struck a chord, as three district courts of appeal have quoted that language with approval. See Bell v. State, 723 So.2d 896, 897 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998); Thomas v. State, 752 So.2d 679, 686 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000); Williams v. State, 10 So.3d 218, 219 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009).