The sentence preceding the “kicker” at the end of a paragraph should not introduce a completely new issue. The subject of the second-to-last sentence should come under the umbrella of the paragraph’s topic sentence. The “kicker” should then flow logically from the second-to-last sentence.
Here’s an example of the use of a “kicker” sentence to set up a series of points—from the latest edition of Bryan Garner’s The Winning Brief:
To be reliable, scientific testimony must be grounded in the scientific method and must constitute more than mere subjective or unsupported speculation. (Daubert, supra, 509 U.S. at 589-90.) [T]he factors bearing on reliability [include] whether the theory can be tested, whether the theory has been subjected to peer review and publication, the known or potential rate of error, and general acceptance in the field. (Id. at 593.) The testimony of [names of experts] met the standard of reliability. Four points demonstrate this.
First, both [names of experts] are qualified. [fact one in support.] [cite to record.] [fact two in support.] [cite to record.]
Second, their opinion was based in part on a reliable study. [identification and description of study.] [fact one drawn from record showing the study was reliable.] [cite to record.] [fact two drawn from record showing the study was reliable.] [cite to record.] Even if the study were somehow inadmissible, [names of experts] would be justified in relying on it because it is precisely the type on which experts in the field reasonably rely. [cite to record.]
Third, [names of experts] double-checked their work in two ways: (1) [first way they double-checked their work], and (2) they sought second opinions within academia. On the first point, [facts expanding on (1).] [cite to record.] On the second point, [facts expanding on (2).] [cite to record.]
Fourth, [names of experts]’s opinions met the last criterion: that the opinion be relevant to the case. Their opinions were germane to a dispositive issue: whether [articulation of dispositive question.]
Having met all the criteria, [names of experts]’s opinion was admissible.
In the example, the first sentence of the first paragraph announces the topic of that paragraph: admissibility of expert testimony. The second-to-last sentence does not introduce a different topic; rather, it states that the expert opinion in question was admissible. Admissibility of this particular expert testimony comes under the umbrella of admissibility of expert testimony in general. The final sentence, “Four points demonstrate this,” is called a “kicker” sentence, because it “kicks” the reader down to a span of several paragraphs—quite handily, at that.
About the author:
Attorney Savannah Blackwell is a former news reporter who covered government and politics for more than a decade, mostly in San Francisco. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @SavannahBinSF