Persuasive techniques in closing arguments

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Malone, Jesse D.
Beckett, Amy Otley
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Thesis (B.?)
Honors College
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The closing argument portion of a criminal trial significantly influences how a jury perceives information. Closing arguments are the last time both the prosecution and the defense teams can address the jury before they reach a verdict that finds a defendant guilty or not guilty. Given the importance of the concluding arguments, there is notability in determining what forms of communication may influence the jury. The current study seeks to identify the prevalence of persuasive techniques for both the prosecution and the defense during closing arguments. The study seeks to identify the frequency of used techniques used most frequently and which are favored by separate legal counsels. The research presented here exists as a case study that analyzes the trial of State of M.N. vs. Derek Chauvin (2021), a televised court case with cultural significance since the defendant was a police officer operating in the line of duty. Using qualitative coding, the researcher highlights persuasive techniques in the online transcripts of the recorded closing arguments. Findings from the following study suggest that all the techniques identified were present in the closing argument. The technique favored most by the prosecution was Identity and Role Association, while the most favored technique for the defense was Structure and Narrative.