Opening Statements

Report
Mock Trial


GOAL IS TO MAP OUT YOUR CASE IN A
STORY
TELL A STORY FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE
DO NOT ARGUE!
 EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPENED IN A STORY
FORM IN A WAY THAT IS EASY TO FOLLOW
AND INTERESTING
 USE FUTURE TENSE. "THE EVIDENCE WILL
SHOW...“
 USE STRONG POWERFUL LANGUAGE. "WE
WILL PROVE...." VS. "WE WILL TRY TO...."
TELL WHAT WITNESSES AND EVIDENCE
YOU WILL USE TO PROVE YOUR STORY.
STATE THAT YOU WILL MEET YOUR
BURDEN OF PROOF IF YOU ARE THE
PLAINTIFF/PROSECUTION.

Until now, the jury will not have heard
anything about your case. So the opening
statement is an opportunity to outline the facts
as you anticipate they will be presented. The
opening statement is not really an opportunity
to argue your case, but it is an opportunity for
you to begin to convince the jury about the
strength of your case, or the strength of your
defense.







Good morning, my name is ____ and I represent the
State.
This is my opportunity to outline the evidence as I
anticipate it will be presented.
I will call three witnesses.
The first witness will be so and so, and he will testify as
to such and such.
The second witness will be so and so, and he will
testify as to such and such.
The third witness will be so and so, and he will testify
as to such and such.
At the conclusion of the case, we will ask you to
convict the defendant of the crime as charged, thank
you.
Most of the time a defense lawyer does not succeed in
convincing a jury of a the defendant’s actual innocence.
Usually when a defendant is acquitted (found “not
guilty”), the jurors make that decision based on the fact
that there was some small measure of doubt in their minds
as to the defendant’s guilt.
These doubts are what the defense lawyer raises, and there
is no better place to begin then in the defense opening
statement.


Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the
jury, my name is so-and-so and it is my
privilege to represent (name of client) in this
case before you today.
You have heard the prosecutor explain what
she hopes will be proven, but the prosecutor
did not tell you all the facts.


The prosecutor has explained that my client
was “identified” as the bank robber, but in fact
this supposed eye-witness is a man that has
held a grudge against my client for a long time,
and he has made many inconsistent statements
about the case.
The prosecutor has explained that my client
was found the next day with over 50 thousand
dollars, but none of those bills’ serial numbers
was matched to any bank, and my client had
the money due to a recent inheritance.


The prosecutor has stated that my client
confessed to the robbery, but this statement
was made to the police under coercion, and my
client is mentally ill and didn’t know what he
was saying.
So we would ask you to keep an open mind
and listen to ALL the evidence, and return a
verdict of “not guilty”. Thank you.

IF YOU ARE THE DEFENSE, MAKE A BIG
ISSUE THAT AN INDICTMENT OR
ACCUSATION DOES NOT MEAN A PERSON
IS GUILTY.

DEFENSE SHOULD MAKE A BIG ISSUE
ABOUT THE


BIG BURDEN
THE PROSECUTION HAS IN A CRIMINAL
CASE.
Your closing argument is just that,
an argument.

You need to convince the jury of the merits of
your arguments – not to consider the facts from a
neutral point of view.
Remember—from the prosecution’s stand
there is no reasonable doubt


You want to remind the jury of what you said
in your opening.
For example: “Good afternoon ladies and
gentlemen – thank you for your time and attention
to this very important matter here today.
As I [or my colleague] stated this morning, the
evidence against so-and-so is really
overwhelming, and we would ask you to return a
verdict of guilty.”







For Example: defendant is charged with aggravated assault
Here is how the jury is charged
In order for you to convict the defendant of aggravated assault, the State
must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. That the defendant did cause bodily injury to the victim; and
2. That the defendant acted purposely, knowingly or recklessly in causing
bodily
injury to the victim.
Bodily injury is defined as pain, illness or impairment of the physical
condition. The second element that the State must prove is that the
defendant acted purposely or knowingly or acted recklessly under
circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life. A person
acts purposely if he acts with a specific intent. In other words if he means
to do what he does. A person acts knowingly if he is aware that it is
practically certain that his behavior will cause a result.



Make a list of your strongest points and
emphasize them
You should make a point of responding to the
prosecutors closing argument.
“Now we have just listened to the prosecutor
state that the police found fingerprints of my
client at the scene of the burglary. However,
that is not a very strong point considering that
my client had been a guest at the victim’s home
on earlier occasions.”

Aside from the above, here are a few
arguments you often see defense lawyers bring
up:
1. The burden of proof is very high – beyond a
reasonable doubt. It is not sufficient to merely
suspect that someone did something.
2. The defendant in a court of law has no
burden to prove his or her own innocence.

3. The police should have done a more
thorough investigation: i.e. talked to more
witnesses, looked for DNA evidence, dusted
for finger prints in more locations, attempted to
locate security cameras.

4. Bias of witnesses – the police, the eyewitnesses, the expert witnesses etc.

5. Describe your client in the best possible light,
i.e. argue that he wouldn’t commit the crime as
alleged.

6. Remind the mock trial jurors that they must
be unanimous to convict your client.

similar documents