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The Perfect Opening StatementThe Perfect Opening Statement

The Perfect Opening Statement

Kirk Simoneau

Lawsuit Information

If you’ve done voir dire right, when you open the jury already feels they know and trust you. So, when you open you have a lot less work to do, but, bear in mind, retaining your credibility is key. If you overpromise your case, or mischaracterize the defense, you lose.

When I open, I foreshadow the entire trial. I walk the jury through what to expect. Remember, except for what they see on TV, a jury has no idea how a trial works. I even telegraph when they can expect me to object. “Now, when Mr. Defense Lawyer puts Miss Smith on the stand, I expect I’ll have to object. We’ll, Mr. Defense Lawyer, co­ counsel, the judge and I will all discuss in hushed tones, the objection and you will all, well most of you, will lean in and try to overhear. The judge will rule and we’ll move on.”

I also tell the judge in a sentence or two, what I believe the testimony or evidence will be. I follow the temporal order of the witness list and even, when I’m certain, try to give time estimate. Again, I want to be the source of all knowledge for the jury. I want to de­mystify the process.

Opening is also the time to introduce the wonderful photos you have. These should already be admitted and agreed to. I reference photos of the defect and x-rays of the injury throughout openings. Many jurors are visual learners, don’t leave them out.

Keep your opening brief and don’t forget to discuss defense witnesses and key points. You aren’t hiding anything, you are the teller of truth - all truth, nothing but the truth, so help you God.

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