How to Write a Strong Opening Statement for Trial

by AWR | Sep 26, 2019 2:15:06 PM

 

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Even in criminal law, where the standard of proof is much higher, whoever tells the most convincing story will win the lawsuit. Why? Because as every writer of fiction knows, humans (and juries) love a good story. It’s important to create a strong narrative that you will present to the jury in your opening statement. Is it easy? Not necessarily. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

Telling Your Client’s Story

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Creating the story of your case allows you to put the jury into the position of your client. It outlines chronologically what they’ve gone through. It induces empathy and sympathy. It forces them to wonder how they would have responded in the same position.

These elements may be more compelling than the facts of your case. You will spend the rest of your case introducing evidence and providing witness testimony that backs up your story. Many jurors will base their entire decision on the quality of your opening and closing statements. During this period, you present no evidence, but simply discuss your client and what they went through.

Discussing Evidence Presented

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Another tactic of those who craft strong opening statements is to discuss the evidence that will be presented during the trial. For instance:

“You will hear from employees at the factory how they were required to meet certain quotas. During this period, the quality of production faltered resulting in defective products that harmed many of their customers.”

Here, you’re discussing the specific evidence that will support the claim that the manufacturer of a product employed policies that resulted in a presumably serious injury. By using vivid and highly loaded words such as “defective”, you crystallize the main theme of your argument—that your client was injured by a defective product.

Bonding With the Jury

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There are multiple ways that you can bond with the jury during your opening statement. Introduce yourself, introduce your client, then introduce why you’re passionate and why you believe in your client. Throughout this process, you want to ensure that your body language is confident and positive. You want to organize your thoughts in sequence and ensure that your story is as clear as possible. You don’t want to overwhelm the jury with abstruse science or words like “abstruse”. You want to be clear, direct, and congenial.

What Do You Want Your Client to Achieve?

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You need to be very explicit to the jury about what you believe your client deserves as compensation for their injuries. Juries, even when they want to empathize with your client and believe in your case, don’t necessarily know what a good result will look like. You need to ensure that they know what a fair result looks like and why that result is fair.

Strengthen Your Case with AWR Litigation Support ServicesAWR Group Photo

AWR provides expert litigation support services to clients all over the United States and Canada. As a lawyer, you need to focus on your arguments, your case theory, and not have to worry about organizing documents, managing transcriptions, creating storyboards, or programming 3D animations of accidents. That’s where we come in. Give us a call today to learn more and schedule services.

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