ST.LOUIS, Mo. — Pontotoc County Assistant District Attorney Chris Ross recently served as a faculty member for a four day prosecution seminar in St. Louis, Mo. The seminar was co-hosted by the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services and the Illinois Department of Transportation. Ross said “The course focused on instructing prosecutors how to teach the proper method of opening statements, closing statements, direct examination, and cross examination, and how to critique the performance of other prosecutors in these areas.” The students then return to their respective states with the ability to both teach the proper methods and critique the performance of other prosecutors in either a training setting or an actual trial.
Ross said the course is different than most prosecution seminars in several ways including the selection of attendees, the advanced course subject, and the outcome of prosecutors gaining the knowledge to teach others. For most seminars, you sign up, attend and you are taught on a subject. Attorneys attending this course were first nominated by their states, and then approved for attendance by the hosting agencies. This is necessary because it is not a course for an inexperienced prosecutor, or a prosecutor who lacks trial skills. This course is more advanced than most seminars. Because the goal of the course is to enable the participants to go back to their states and teach other prosecutors the proper methods of trial techniques and to critique other prosecutors' performances, they really need to have trial experience themselves.
“For example, to be able to teach them to critique another prosecutor's closing argument, it is necessary to understand why a certain method of making a closing isn't the best method to use,” said Ross. “Prosecutors need to understand the rationale behind the method we teach. To be able to teach a course on making a closing argument, prosecutors need to be able to base a good closing argument on these same rationales. An inexperienced prosecutor would usually not have those skills. Basically, we teach experienced prosecutors how to go back to their states and teach less experienced prosecutors proper trial advocacy," Ross said.
Those attending the course included prosecutors from Illinois, Missouri, North Dakota, Arizona, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. Ross has previously served as a faculty member for this course in the states of Tennessee and Florida, and frequently speaks at seminars hosted by the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association.