For my sins, no doubt, I have been an attorney for 27 years. Few closing arguments by a lawyer have been better reasoned or more eloquently delivered than the closing given by John Adams in his successful defense of the British soldiers accused of homicide in the Boston Massacre of 1770. It should be read by all attorneys and by anyone interested in effective oratory and tight reasoning.
Tuesday, NINE o’Clock, the Court met according to adjournment, and Mr. ADAMS proceeded:
May it please your Honours, and you Gentlemen of the Jury,
I yesterday afternoon produced from the best authorities, those rules of law which must govern all cases of homicide, particularly that which is now before you; it now remains to consider the evidence, and see whether any thing has occurred, that may be compared to the rules read to you; and I will not trouble myself nor you with laboured endeavours to be methodical, I shall endeavour to make some few observations, on the testimonies of the witnesses, such as will place the facts in a true point of light, with as much brevity as possible; but I suppose it would take me four hours to read to you, (if I did nothing else but read) the minutes of evidence that I have taken in this trial. In the first place the Gentleman who opened this cause, has stated to you, with candour and precision, the evidence of the identity of the persons. (more…)