¶ … opening statement, one which is powerful and which is able to foster a sense of trust between the legal team and the jury is absolutely a fundamental step when it comes to administering the appropriate foundation at the start of the trial. The opening statement has overall four main objectives: the first is to offer a lucid picture of the case: the major plot points, the people involved and all instrumentalities, disputes and assertions of fact. Another aspect of the opening statement is that it needs to "arouse the interest of the jurors in your case and general theory so that they want to hear your evidence. If jurors become bored (or worse, if they become antagonistic), they may be inattentive while you present your witnesses" (Indiana.edu). The third function of the opening statement is to foster a sense of rapport with the jurors, so that they are treated as intelligent people and so that all sincere beliefs in one's cause are communicated: this is important as it furthers the process of establishing connections and a bond with the jurors. In particular, if one is on the side of the defense during the trial, the opening statement marks a time where the opportunity to alert jurors to the two sides of the case is absolutely essential: it ensures that the jurors do not make up their minds too quickly (Indiana.edu). The opening statement is often viewed by experienced trial practitioners as part of the more underrated and overlooked elements of the trial as it allows one to present one's side as a more cohesive whole.
It's not reasonable to expect jurors to gain a particular decision regarding one's opening remarks; the opening statement can ensure that one engages in an effective use of the principle of primacy to effectively capitalize on the process of persuasion....
One of the most problematic aspects of the opening statement is that lawyers don't adequately seize the opportunity to present their theory and to highlight the most meaningful parts of the evidence: rather, they read the pleadings and bury the important facts in a mass of trivial details, sacrificing the coherence and going into intricate summaries which only confuse jurors and obfuscate the most important and meaningful facts (Indiana.edu). One of the issues that other trial attorneys make through their own mistakes is an overgeneralization during the opening statement. This can be just as bad as a wealth of details as overgeneralizations mean that the important details are left out and the side of the case is presented as vague.
One side of the case, be it the defense or the prosecution, should be able to present the case and the summation of facts in a particular and meaningful way. The opening statement needs to be able to summarize the evidence in such a manner that the theme of the case is presented. However, with many trial attorneys, their opening statements just aren't organized well enough to allow this to happen. "A short opening sentence or two that presents the theme of the case; a short 125-word overview of the case to orient the jurors and give them an aid to understanding the facts that follow; then a re-telling of the 'story' chronologically" (Schaeffer, 2004). One can even use the method that many Hollywood screenwriters use: start by setting a time and place and then introduce one's client as a protagonist along with the conflict (what's wrong) and then add all additional events in a…
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