Like most things, the Golden Rule means something a bit different to lawyers than to everyone else. At trial, the “Golden Rule Argument” means asking the jury, “put yourself in my client’s shoes.” It may sound like smart lawyering, but it usually is not. See, the problem is that by asking the jury to do that, the lawyer may be seen as appealing to jurors’ sympathy, as asking them to decide the case based on their emotions. But jurors are sworn to decide on the facts presented to them, and lawyers are sworn to keep their presentations to those facts. There is a lot of gamesmanship going on to be sure, but make no mistake, the real world is nothing like Law and Order.
The bottom line is that what one says to the jury, from opening to closing statements and every word is between, is governed by rules of law. And every word has the potential of getting the case reversed on appeal. Having an attorney in court – preferably a good one, is no luxury.