An opening statement is essential for any successful trial. It should include an introductory statement, the main body comprising all the relevant information, and a conclusion. Usually, the relevant information must include possible disputes as well as weaknesses.
An opening statement provides the lawyer with an opportunity to address the jury in a trial and shapes the impression of the case and the jury. It forecasts to the jury the evidence they will see and hear during the trial. In other words, it lets the jury know what to expect and allows them to understand the evidence when it is presented to them.
How to Write an Opening Statement
The first step of writing an opening statement is to start with an introduction describing the intentions and overall purpose of the opening statement. This will allow you the chance to grab the attention of the jury as, at this point, they will be interested in listening to the facts in the form of a story. The introductory statement should also include what the evidence might depict.
In your introductory statement, you need to include the following;
- Introduce yourself to the jury as a lawyer.
- Introduction of the client to the jury- introduce your client to the jury in an empathetic way to relate. Provide all the relevant information regarding the client’s case to ensure that the jury understands the client’s nature and empathetic to them.
- State the facts plus details of all important information related to the client’s case. Additionally, provide the jury the client’s perspective, so they consider it.
- Provide the jury with the client’s medical condition’s chronological order after the client’s accident and medical condition before the particular accident. You should also provide the injuries, care, and treatment the client received at this stage
The main body of the opening statement
In this section, tell your story of what happened from your client’s point of view. Make this section simple and easy to understand or follow since this will determine the jury’s first impression of the facts. Let your focus be who did what to whom, their reasons, and the results. In the body of the opening statement, remember to discuss any glaring weaknesses and disputes to look honest and minimize your opponents’ impact if they decide to bring them up later. Bringing out your client’s weaknesses and disputes allows you to portray your client in the most positive light possible. Keep the body as brief as possible and only bring up weaknesses that are likely to emerge from your own presentation of evidence.
In your conclusion section, summarize your case’s theme and ask the jury for a specific verdict. You can achieve this by suggesting that all the evidence you have provided totals up to a favorable outcome.
After drafting your opening statement, make sure to go through it several times, envisioning it from the jury’s perspective. This way, you will be able to understand the impact that your statement has appropriately. You can also invite your colleagues to help you understand the key points you need to add or remove to make your opening statement effective and impactful.
Free Templates & Examples
Tips for Writing an Effective Opening Statement
Before writing an Opening Statement, firstly, you need to comprehend why the opening statement is imperative. This ensures that you write the best opening statement possible. The following three tips will help you accomplish your mission;
- Make sure to present a clear picture of the case in your opening statement as this is the only time you will be able to tell your complete story uninterrupted to the jury in a trial. After the opening statement, the case unfolds in bits and may seem unorganized to the jury.
- Always make sure you grab the interest and attention of your jury in the case. Failure to do so will make your jury get uninterested and distracted during your presentation of witnesses and your evidence.
Create a good rapport with your jury. Ensure that the jury likes you, as you will require them to decide the verdict of the case in your favor. Address them as the intelligent people they are, and be sincere while conveying your beliefs
The conclusion would ask the jury for the verdict prior to which details like adverse examination, charges paid by the client have to be put forward as well.