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NCJ Number: 170397 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Art - Not a Science: A Prosecutor's Perspective on Opening Statements
Journal: Prosecutor  Volume:31  Issue:6  Dated:(November/December 1997)  Pages:32-37
Author(s): J J Eannace
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: NCJRS Photocopy Services
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United States of America
Type: Training (Aid/Material)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Instruction on the development and presentation of a prosecutorial opening statement addresses goals, rules, organization, mode of communication, exhibits, and objections during opening statements.
Abstract: Studies indicate that in 80 percent of jury trials, the party that ultimately wins is the one that the jury favors immediately upon completion of opening statements. In opening statements, jurors will form an impression of the case and decide which party they want to prevail. Accordingly, the impression that jurors form during opening statements will govern how they consider and analyze the evidence throughout the remainder of the trial. Goals to be attained during the opening statement are to dispel jury intimidation and educate the jury about the case. Rules to follow during an opening statement are to never infer, argue, or draw conclusions to the jury; never overstate your case to the extent of promising something that cannot be delivered; and find a way to address any weakness in the case. Regarding the organization of an opening statement, make the first paragraph a summary of what the case is about. The second portion of the opening statement should focus on the details of the crime, and then tell the jurors what is to come in the presentation of the prosecution's case. Approximately three-quarters through the opening statement, the prosecutor should talk to the jury about the basis for guilt, then anticipate and refute defenses, and present a prosecutorial interpretation of the facts and highlight any pivotal witness or piece of evidence. Regarding mode of communication, the prosecutor should use lay language and move away from the podium, walking up and down the jury box. The use of exhibits during opening statements should be limited to complex scenarios. This article concludes with a list of the most common objections made during opening statements. 1 note
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Attorney-jury interaction; Opening statements; Prosecutors
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