There are four permissible areas of jury argument: (1) a summation of the evidence presented at trial; (2) a reasonable deduction drawn from that evidence; (3) an answer to the opposing counsel’s argument; or (4) a plea for law enforcement. Guidry v. State, 9 S.W.3d 133, 154 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999). An argument that exceeds the bounds of these permissible areas constitutes reversible error if “an analysis of the record as a whole shows the argument is extreme or manifestly improper, violates a mandatory statute, or injects new facts harmful to the accused into the trial proceeding.” Gonzalez v. State, 337 S.W.3d 473, 483 (Tex. App.– Houston [1st Dist.] 2011, pet. ref’d).

Plea for Law Enforcement

A proper plea for law enforcement may take many forms, one of which is to argue the relationship between the jury’s verdict and the deterrence of crime in general. Shippy v. State, 556 S.W.2d 246, 257 (Tex.Cr.App. 1977); Bowman v. State, 446 S.W.2d 320 (Tex.Cr.App. 1969); Grant v. State, 162 Tex.Cr.R. 444, 286 S.W.2d 422 (1956). As the State notes, this Court has permitted the prosecutor to argue that juries should deter specific crimes by their verdict….The State may also argue the impact of the jury’s verdict on the community. See, e.g., Adams v. State, 685 S.W.2d 661, 671 (Tex.Cr.App. 1985); Haynes v. State, 627 S.W.2d 710, 714 (Tex.Cr.App. 1982). The State may not, however, argue that the community or any particular segment of the community expects or demands either a guilty verdict or a particular punishment. Cortez v. State, 683 S.W.2d 419 (Tex.Cr.App. 1984) and cases cited therein; Goocher v. State, supra. Borjan v. State, 787 S.W.2d 53, 55-56 (Tex. Crim. App. 1990).

Improper Argument

A plea for the abandonment of objectivity is improper jury argument. Brandley v. State, 691 S.W.2d 699, 712 (Tex. Crim. App. 1985).

Appellate Review of Closing Argument Error

A trial court’s ruling on an improper objection is subject to an abuse of discretion standard of review. Franklin v. State, 459 S.W.3d 670, 681 (Tex. App. Texarkana 2015, pet. ref’d).

Improper-argument error is non-constitutional error. Brown v. State, 270 S.W.3d 564, 572 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008). Under Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 44.2(b), non-constitutional error must be disregarded unless it affects a substantial right. Tex. R. App. Proc. 44.2(b).

In assessing the harm of an improper argument at punishment, the reviewing court should consider the (1) the severity of the misconduct, (2) curative measures, and (3) the certainty of the outcome (conviction or punishment assessed) absent the misconduct. Martinez v. State, 17 S.W.3d 677, 693 (Tex. Crim. App. 2000).

All annotations are meant solely as a starting point for legal research and not as authority. Annotations should not be considered legal advice. I do not warrant the accuracy of the interpretation of case law.