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Defendant Silence and Rhetorical Stasis

Silence disrupts the classic arrangement of argumentation by preventing the traditional narrowing of issues—i.e., the identification of points of stasis. This burdens the side against which silence is deployed. When the defendant invokes the right to silence, the prosecution must address every possible defense. In those rare instances where a defendant’s silence may be raised by the prosecution, the defendant may be put in a position of concession on multiple fronts. In either case, the economy of argument anticipated by classical rhetoric is lost.

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