Appellate Review of Racist Summations: Redeeming the Promise of Searching Analysis

41 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2006  

Ryan Patrick Alford

Lakehead University - Bora Laskin Faculty of Law

Abstract

This article addresses the question of the appropriate response of appellate counsel for Black defendants tarred at trial by the indirect rhetorical deployment of powerful racial stereotypes. The crux of the problem is that courts typically only take exception to blantantly racist appeals, even though implicitly racist summations can have a determinative impact at trial. In laying out the contours of the problem, we must draw upon the discipline of rhetoric (or persuasion through oration) to describe various techniques of intentional indirectness that prosecutors have used to obviate the possibility of effective appellate review of racist argumentation, especially under the stringent standards of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Keywords: rhetoric, argumentation, closing arguments, summations, racism, critical race studies, appellate review, rhetorical theory, stereotypes, prejudice

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Alford, Ryan Patrick, Appellate Review of Racist Summations: Redeeming the Promise of Searching Analysis. Michigan Journal of Race & Law, Vol. 11, pp. 325-345, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=918805

Ryan Patrick Alford (Contact Author)

Lakehead University - Bora Laskin Faculty of Law ( email )

955 Oliver Road
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5E1
Canada

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