Litigation

Cal. Litig. 2018, Volume 31 Number 2

Opening Statements: "It Was a Dark and Windy Night …"

By Michael D. Stein

Tell us a story, Daddy." This delightful request when my daughters were little was commonplace when their bedtime arrived. Little did I know I was practicing the most crucial requirement of presenting an effective opening statement at trial; namely, telling an engaging story.

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Numerous studies confirm many jurors decide how they will vote after opening statement. Yet many attorneys seem to strive to make their opening bland and uninspiring. Picture my daughters tucked in their beds as I rise to regale them with "Goldilocks and The Three Bears." Imagine how the transcript would read if I used the opening statement style many attorneys employ:

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