Defense Summation

The death of Melissa Anderson is, of course, a tragedy. It was the direct result of Kelly Greene’s error in judgment; and although she certainly did not intend for anything like this to occur, she must be judged for her responsibility. However, it makes no sense to rectify this tragedy by ruining Thomas Randall’s life.

He is in no way responsible for the death of Melissa Anderson. All he did was host a party for his friendsthe kind of party that takes place all of the time on virtually every college campus. He is a victim of an unreasonable law that you must be 21 years of age to drink alcohol. I would bet that every person in this courtroom had at least one drink of alcohol before they were 21 years old. If people are mature enough to vote, drive cars, hold jobs, pay taxes, and be drafted, then they are mature enough to drink alcohol. And it is unreasonable to expect a party host to run around playing policeman, telling guests who can drink and who cannot. As one college president noted, “It is awfully hard to control a mixed-age group where some can drink and some cannot, but all are students. Since the consumption of alcohol is not generally an illegal activityunlike smoking marijuana or crackyou have this bizarre situation where at the mystic age of 21, suddenly people can drink legally when they could not the day before.”

In addition, we have heard experts describe how there are many factors that contribute to alcohol abusebesides the influence of other people. The power of advertisers, family history, and the personal choices by individuals all play a role in whether someone is going to drink excessively. It is unfair to single out one person, like Tom Randall, and blame him for Ms. Greene’s behavior. Her decision to drink that night was the result of a variety of factors, most of which we will never fully understand. However, in the final analysis, Ms. Greene must be held responsible for her own free choices. When Kelly Greene attended Tom Randall’s party, nobody forced her to drink; there were plenty of nonalcoholic beverages available. And after she chose to drink, nobody forced her to attempt to drive her car home; she had other alternatives. Ultimately, there was only one person responsible for the tragic events of that evening, and that person is Kelly Greene.

We live in a society in which people are constantly trying to blame everyone but themselves for their mistakes or misfortunes. This is not a healthy or productive approach. If this society is going to foster the development of independent, mature citizens, then people must be willing to accept responsibility for their own freely made choices and not look for scapegoats like Mr. Randall to blame for their failings.

Outline one key argument used in the defense attorneys summation. What was the conclusion? Explain what premises and reasons led to that conclusion. Next, evaluate the strength of the argument you identified above by assessing the truth of the reasons and the extent to which the conclusion follows logically from the reasons.

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