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Mock Trial, part 2: The Opening Statements

Here is a format you can use to write your own Mock Trial Opening Statements.

Calling of Case by Bailiff

"All rise. The Court of _______________ is now in session. Honorable Judge ______________ presiding.

Each side may outline the proof to be presented to the jury during the trial. Opening statements are not evidence, only expectations of what each side expects the evidence to prove. These statements are not evidence but only explanations of what each side claims and expects to prove. The claims must be proved by evidence. The conflicting claims constitute the issues.

The Opening Statements for the Prosecution

THE INTRODUCTION


Good morning, my name is ________, and I am the prosecutor in this case. It is my pleasure to represent the people of this state. On {date of incident}, the defendant in this case {describe what he or she did in detail}. At the conclusion of the case we will ask for a verdict of guilty. 
It may be helpful to point to the defendant in the courtroom when you refer to him.


THE THEME


Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this case is about {sum it up in a memorable way...examples could be...a defendant who could not control his anger or a man whose greed got the better of him or  a defendant who is pretending to be insane to avoid being held responsible for his own actions}. 
These are some pretty basic themes. To develop your own theme, try to summarize your prosecution case in a sentence or two.


SUMMARIZE EACH WITNESS


Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the prosecution will call three witnesses to the stand. We will call (first witness) officer __________ who will explain that he was on duty in (place) (when...possibly...on the night of the robbery), and (did what? possibly...responded to the 7-11 and observed the defendant fleeing from the scene with a bag in his hand. We will call (second witness, such as...the store clerk who was on duty, and she will testify (what?... such as...that she recognized the defendant as the robber even though he had a bandanna covering most of his face.) Lastly we will call (third witness...such as, a government psychologist) who will testify what? such as... that he did a mental health assessment of the defendant. The psychologist will testify that the defendant was definitely not insane at the time of the commission of the crime.)
A couple of examples are provided above, but you will need to summarize for yourself what each witness is going to testify to. A lengthier opening statement will provide a lot of details as to what each witness will say. 


Anticipate the defense theories:


A good prosecution opening statement will try to anticipate the points that the defense will raise in their opening. Remember that the prosecution has to give their opening statement first so you will have to guess a little as to what the defense will say. Often times a prosecutor will state something along the lines of “Ladies and gentlemen, the defense may argue that the defendant acted in self-defense, however, the witnesses will all state that it was the defendant who approached the victim and began attacking him.” Or the prosecution will state: “Ladies and gentlemen, the defendant may argue that the defendant was temporarily insane at the time of the fight. However, we will show that the defendant was merely intoxicated when the fight broke out, and not of the witnesses will describe unusual behavior.”


CONCLUSION


At the conclusion of the case we would ask you to find the defendant guilty, that the state has not met its burden of proof. Thank you.


The Opening Statements for the Defense

THE INTRODUCTION

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.


THE REBUTTAL

In your defense opening statement, your job is raise some doubt in the jurors minds about the prosecutor’s claims as to what your client has done. So after you introduce yourself, and tell the jurors who you represent, you should begin to highlight the facts in the case that support your defense theory.

"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 (example: identified” as the bank robber), but in fact  (example: 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 (next point...such as...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 (next point...such as....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."


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1 comment:

  1. A few years ago, like back when I was pregnant with Princess, we went to Colonial Williamsburg and got to participate in a mock trial as the jury. It was quite interesting.

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