While political and marital arguments have no bounds except those that combatants place on themselves, legal arguments have formal, structure rules.
For example . . .
Rules of evidence forbid lawyers to use arguments based on prior convictions or charges against the accused. In the normal practice of law, a “fiction” emerges in which relevant information doesn’t reach the jury member’s ears, so they can remain impartial.
Arguments don’t really occur in law or at least they’re not actually supposed to. Lawyers use argument to bring out the evidence according to the rules that applicable in court.
In the “adversary system” of law, each party presents evidence in a light that’s most favorable to its case. The judge or jury decides which set of evidence carries the most weight. Even in “closing” arguments, attorneys follow procedural rules and restrict themselves to arguments based on the evidence from the trial.
Remember this well
Good argument can demolish the rules. The first amendment allows Americans to “say whatever they like”, but not to do whatever they want. Yet saying and doing intertwine.
For example . . .
Effective lawyers can turn an act of defiance, like “burning the American flag,” into a form of free speech such as a protest.
Other lawyers have argued that pornography shouldn’t fall within First Amendment protections of free speech because it constitutes an act against women. Lawyers use the bounds of legal arguments to their clients’ advantage.
Their knowledge of rules and context make attorneys essential to success in the fictionalized setting of a courtroom. Even contracts, which seem final once all stakeholders sign off on their content, don’t stand up if a judge deems that they fail to “honor the intentions” of the parties.
This exposes a fiction in the complex world of legal arguments: Written words, agreed to and signed, are actually not a guarantee if a judge deems otherwise.
This signifies to the power, “malleability” and infinite interpretability of words.
Inspiration from my reading notes on “Winning Arguments”.
Categories: Reading Notes