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The opening statement constitutes the first dialogue in a trial proceeding, and as such its importance cannot be underestimated. Theoretically the jury knows nothing about the case at this time; therefore the opening statement serves as the introduction of not only the lawyer to the jurors, but the facts as well.

This first impression is critical in that the jurors will often make snap judgments about the counsel’s integrity and credibility based on this first interaction. These assessments can have resounding effects on opinions shaped throughout the trial.

During an opening statement there are no witnesses or evidence, just speech from the prosecution then the defense. The goal is to pave the road to the verdict you seek by laying out a concise road map of what you are going to prove.

The defense will normally use a part of their opening to touch on what the prosecution will not prove, or what the evidence will not be. Objections are allowed, but quite rare; there is a lot of leeway in presenting your case in an opening statement.

The defense is not required to make an opening statement right after the prosecution, in some cases the defense may decide to wait until the prosecution has completed their portion of the trial. However, it is quite risky to let the prosecution’s case go unopposed for such a lengthy period of time.

Every case is essentially a story, with a plot, places, and real life characters. The goal when addressing the jury directly is to create a compelling picture of your side of the story and to convince them that the picture you are painting is the most accurate description of the way the events actually happened.


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