How a DUI attorney can attack the state’s circumstantial evidence during closing argument

Last Modified: June 18, 2024

How a DUI attorney can attack the state’s circumstantial evidence during closing argument

In the trial of a drunk driving case, the prosecutor may want the jurors to convict the defendant on the basis of circumstantial evidence. With circumstantial evidence, the jurors are asked to make an inference from one fact to deduce the existence or nonexistence of another fact. But some jurors have trouble recognizing circumstantial evidence.

 

During closing argument, the defendant’s DUI attorney can use an anecdote to help the jurors appreciate the problems with circumstantial evidence. The following portion of the defense attorney’s closing argument contains an example anecdote:

 

“I came home one day in a terrible mood. During dinner my eldest son was particularly obnoxious and talked back more than I could stand. I sent him to bed. Like many 8-year-olds he stomped up the stairs in defiance. I ran over to the stairs to let him know in no uncertain terms that his attitude had best change. I also warned him not to slam his door, as is his usual action.


Just as I sat back down—wham—the door was slammed. I bolted out of my chair, stormed upstairs and flung open the door. As I grabbed him screaming at his disrespect, he told me that he did not do it. This obvious falsehood sent me over the edge. I sat down on the desk chair, pulled him on to my lap, and struck a blow across his bottom.


Just then, a breeze went through the room, and wham, the door slammed.


To this day, I do not know if he or the wind slammed the door. All I do know is I can never undo that terrible blow. In this case, the prosecutor is asking you to strike a similar blow on my client, with the same type of evidence.”

 

The legal issues presented in the trial of a drunk driving case can be complicated. But a smart and experienced DUI attorney can use a simple anecdote to great effect in helping jurors grasp the problems in the prosecutor’s case.

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