The “even if” versus the “moreover” way of arguing a point

“You heard Mr. Jones testify that he doesn’t allow his dog to run loose. Even if Mr. Jones’ dog was running loose it could not have bitten Mr. Smith.”

“You heard Mr. Jones testify that his dog did not bite Mr. Smith. Moreover, Mr. Jones doesn’t allow his dog to run loose.”

Before I retired from law practice I always found that the second way of arguing to a jury in closing argument, the “moreover” way, works better than the first way, the “even if” way.  The even if argument confuses the jury.  Did Mr. Jones say that maybe his dog did bite Mr. Smith? The moreover way of stating things makes a clear statement that Mr. Jones denies his dog ever bit Mr. Smith, and a clear statement that Mr. Jones handles his dog responsibly by not letting it run loose and become a neighborhood nuisance.

So long as the testimony made the point that Mr. Jones denies his dog bit Mr. Smith and that he (Mr. Jones) keeps his dog in his own yard, the testimony of the witness can be accurately summarized either way by his counsel in closing argument.  The more persuasive is the “moreover” statement.

This is just as true with more complex subject matter.  Here is a statement about what is likely to happen when a state raises its minimum wage law:

Even if (contrary to all evidence) states that raised their minimum wage did indeed enjoy higher employment growth than states that did not raise theirs, the foundational economic argument against the minimum wage still stands.”

or,

Alternative 1: “All evidence shows that states that raise their minimum wage do not enjoy higher employment growth than states that do not raise theirs.  Moreover, there is a foundational economic argument against the minimum wage on several grounds previously mentioned [or set forth below].”

Alternative 2: The foundational economic argument against the minimum wage is [set forth a short version].  Moreover, All evidence shows that states that raise their minimum wage do not enjoy higher employment growth than states that do not raise theirs.

Here is an example related to current events:

The statute enacted by the Texas legislature does not really say that it will be a crime for a governor to veto a bill contrary to (A) an agreement under which the governor has the veto power, or (B) the governor’s oath of office; but even if it does say that the Legislature would have largely canceled a constitutional constraint on its own legislative power.

or,

The Texas legislature does not have the power to unilaterally cancel a Constitutional restraint on its legislative power; moreover, the statute in question does not really say that it will be a crime for a governor to veto a bill contrary to (A) an agreement under which the governor has the veto power, or (B) the governor’s oath of office.

Again, restating the same argument with “moreover” instead of “even if” is more persuasive.  Every time you find yourself uttering or writing the words “even if” think about whether you could rephrase it with “moreover.”  if so, you’ll persuade more people.


Leave a Reply