6 Reasons Why The Opening Statement is the Most Crucial Part of a Case Trial

Court trials are structured in segments, opening statements, examinations, and closing arguments. Within this segment, the opening statement is by far the most important part of the case. They are believed to be the window through the jury gets a grasp of the evidence at hand.

Opening statements are meant to establish the overall context of the evidence they will hear during the case trial. That is why it is highly important to make your statement stand out.

Here are 6 reasons why the opening statement is the most crucial part of a case trial.

Framework Reveals the Important Information

Psychologically, people like to view information as a coherent framework rather than tiny bits of data. Once the jurors hear the facts, they will start to connect the dots to build the picture of the events in the trial. That is why it is highly important to build the proper framework that they can use to determine your side of the argument.

The Truth Starts in the Opening Statement

When the trail begins, the jury will determine who is lying and at fault as well as who is telling the truth. The initial statement is when they come to terms with their conclusions. This makes it the best opportunity to argue about your position.

Jury Often Decides Before the Closing Argument

Research shows that over 80% of jurors often make their decisions after hearing the opening statements from both sides. While this might seem a bit strange of unfair, it is often true. How both parties portray their argument will be the foundation of the entire case.

Highest Level of Attention

Unless the witness is well-known or appealing to the public, the jurors’ and judge’s attention level will be fresh and at their highest during this time. This gives you the perfect opportunity to tell your story and grab their attention with compelling evidence and demonstration. How you portray your opening statement will provide the best chance to tell your side and make an impression.

Opening Statements Involve Emotions

Just as it is with marketing, the opening statement involves emotions that matter. Humans buy into emotions just as they do with facts. During the trial, they will use those means to decide who is the most emotional in the opening and spend the rest of the trial hearing determining whether their emotions are justified with the facts.

Humans Want Someone to Root For

People want to pick someone they can root for early on. Have you ever picked a favorite team early in the game or afterward? Do you watch sporting events with teams you hardly know a thing about? The same goes for case trials.

Bottom Line

Cases are often pre-determined as they are either win or lose after the opening statements. Therefore, it is important to give your best and use all of your resources into the opening statement.

Top 6 Things Said in Every Mock Jury

For years, mock jurors are used to presenting legal issues and fact patterns with reactions in return. Some have become helpful to legal professionals, while others have done more harm than good. This depends on where you side with in the case. However, you can stay prepared and prevent the unfavorable reactions.

Infographic by: pcntv.com

Here are 6 things said in every mock trail.

“Why did the plaintiff take look to file a lawsuit?

While the plaintiff might have a valid reason for delaying the suit, mock jurors often claim the alleged problem as a sore eye to their merit. In fact, the longer the wait, the less credible the claim might be. Failing to address the issue often works against the plaintiff, despite their explanation. This makes it especially damaging for issues that should be considered as urgent.

“How much should they be rewarded?”

Without knowledge of the law, jurors often have no difficulty in separating rewards from damages. This allows permits from other motives to be rewarded money. That is why is it common for mock trials to start with the question of how much they should be rewarded. The council will need to pay close attention to the situation and address it both legally and from a practical perspective.

“They may be right, but they don’t have enough to prove it.”

Many jurors tend to express their belief that the plaintiff is right. However, they have a hard time accepting the plaintiff’s case if their evidence is insufficient. Even if the plaintiff is right, the juror will have a hard time proving their case.

“Are those actors or real lawyers?”

Believe it or not – mock jurors often assume that the attorneys are actors. However, the jury consultant is always an attorney.

“Let’s divide between what both parties want.”

In an attempt to represent everyone’s side fairly, the most common approach is to split into the damages and awards. Research shows that it is not a true solution as this can only benefit those who wish to punish or reward more than the opposing side. This can be prevented by encouraging the jurors to stand their ground and deal with the possibilities.

“Do we have to be unanimous in the decision?”

No matter how the instructions go in terms of required unanimity, someone will also question it. This usually occurs when the group does not fully agree and looking for another way to resolve the differences. If being unanimous helps your point, then attention will be needed to be paid in summation. Everyone must have the evidenced needed to make the unanimous decision. This makes a mutual reference point to help solve the decision.

Conclusion

Both for actual and mock jurors, the moral barometer are enough to find liability, regardless of any legal standards. This means it is important for the counsel to address any given possibilities. While we may not always side with the law, it is required to be followed.

6 Trial Presentation Tips You Can Learn From Actors

Ever wondered why courtroom scenes are frequently shown all over TV shows and movies? That is most often because the audience loves the drama that comes with the clash between right and wrong.

With all that drama, you can barely notice the level of skill actors need to behavior like lawyers. However, actors have been known to study the best lawyers in the world to determine what it takes to get the scene right. That is why we can learn a lot from Hollywood actors in what it takes to make a trial presentation compelling.

Here are 6 Trial Presentation Tips You Can Learn From Actors.

Make Great preparation


By the time actors perform, they will already know everything they need to know about the plot and their role in it. A successful presentation requires hours of preparation. You don’t have to start your presentation as an essay but rather an effective method of communication. If you write your presentation down on flashcards to just read each out one by one, this will create an impersonal delivery and lose the audience’s attention.

Practice, Practice, Practice


While most actors might not have what it takes to be an actual lawyer, they can surely pull it off in their scenes. This is due to hours of practicing. It is important to practice what you are going to say and how you will deliver it. Listen to the sound and confidence in your voice.

Are your nerves causing you to feel disrupted? Do you find yourself speaking too fast? You can deliver your speech in an audio recorder to get a glimpse of how you sound like to an audience. To help you improve, you can send it to a colleague or family to help you gain better feedback.

Warm Up


Even with hours of practice and preparation, do not underestimate the tools you need to perform. Actors will never walk onstage without warming up. Before walking into the courtroom, warm up your voice and move around. Take deep breaths as you stand to get your blood flowing. Make sure to keep your body and voice expressive as this will help activate concentration and calm the nerves.

Use Simple Language


The best screenwriters know how to make simple sentences go far. Using layman’s terms and language will lay out a forward and emotional sense in your opening statement.

Relate to the Jury


It is important to create a moment that relates to the jury. Ideally, consider touching the most crucial part of the case as it is important to relate the knowledge of a local custom to something meaningful.

Be Ready to Respond


Anything can happen during a performance. This forces actors to prepare for the unexpected. Someone may miss their cue or end up on the wrong stage. Remember to take the time to breathe and read the audience.

Conclusion

You’ve done your work, checked your facts, understand your laws and know what you want as well as how you will get it. Just remember to keep your eyes on the juror and invite your audience to care about what you are trying to say.

5 Statements Lawyers Should Never Say in Court

When it comes to major case hearings, lawyers always have a lot to say. However, how the sentences that come out isn’t always what they expect. I conducted an interview with Chris Stoy, which is a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer at Hutchison & Stoy and had him list some of the most common statements that you never want to hear yourself say in court.

Here are 5 statements lawyers should never say in court:

“Can I please have a few minutes to sort out this issue?”

Fixing any sort of issue, especially technical glitches, during the middle of a hearing is something you don’t want to do in court. However, this is one statement that many lawyers end up saying from time to time. While there are some exceptions of technical difficulties that cannot be controlled, most problems are easily preventable. In cases like these, it is always best to have a backup plan.

“You might not be to see this clearly, but here it is.”

If valuable evidence is not clearly shown, why would the juror and judge include it in their decision? Make sure that whatever you plan to show is clearly visible. This is one of the most common mistakes we see in court. A good presentation provides high-quality text and projectors that include equipment, proper font sizes, and more. Be sure to use texts no smaller than 25. Small problems like these can easily be avoided. However, it is one of the most common PowerPoint mistakes litigators make.

“You can take my word for it.”

Litigators often catch themselves saying things like “you can take my word for it” or “believe me.” However, as a litigator, it is your job to prove the evidence to the case. If you find yourself saying something like this, it ruins the effect of the presentation and becomes an inadequate exercise for visual quality. The juror will take it as an excuse to explain your errors. With all the quality testing tools available, there is no excuse to make this statement and be unprepared.

“Put yourself in their position”

Known as the “Golden Rule” in the courtroom, this statement alone creates a negative approach to the case. Yet, we still see lawyers, even from the top law firms making this mistake over and over. The statement is meant to ask the jury to put themselves in their client’s shoes. However, it may do more harm than good. The purpose of the statement is to really help the jury understand. However, there is a line between how it is said and delivered. Avoid statements like “imagine if you were in their place and suffering or “reward my client the same as you would expect to receive.”

“Check out my next bullet point.”

Generally, the use of bullet points on slides must be avoided. This court will be forced to read them rather than listen to your presentation. Additionally, it is important to understand that you must not speak and show at the same time.

Keep these statements in mind for your next court presentation. Knowing what not to say will help guide you in better performance and in results.

3 Strategies on How to Handle A Hesitant Expert Witness in Court

An expert opinion witness lies at the center of many cases. That is because its significance plays a strong role in the issues within the case. Expert witnesses are proven to be highly educated and brilliant specialists in their field.

Experts must be well-prepared for their testimony as well as every possible attack against it. This is where the case would be determined as a win or lose. Experts that fail to provide visual aids to support their testimony will become invalid and not useful for the case.

Additionally, they are also the individuals that can turn their testimony into a defeat or victory in court. The task is to allow them to be as effective as possible, which can be achieved through preparation. However, not all experts are welcoming to the challenge.

Some expert witnesses use visual aids to support their claims, while others use trial graphics consultants. These are meant to be used for technical presentations that are well understood in laymen’s terms. In other cases, expert witnesses are certain that they will already be well understood without the use of charts. So how does one convince an expert witness to testify in court?

Here are 3 strategies on how to handle a hesitant expert witness in court.

Boost Their Ego


Talk to the expert witness and tell them that most jurors and judges are not as intelligent as they are, so visual tools will help them to better understand the testimony. Using a related quote that help inspired their willingness to accept and motivated to communicate effectively. The right tool and understanding will help boost their ego and motivate them to speak with effective tools.

Use Video Tests on the Expert


If the expert witness is interested in improving the testimony, the best way to get started is to use repeat video tests. You can do this with an online evaluation service or with a live mock jury. Consider this as a rehearsal for the opening performance. Video tests will allow you and the expert to see their strengths and what they lack in their performance.

Let the Expert Go


It is important to understand that having the right evidence is not enough to win over a trial. An expert witness must be able to present their given evidence persuasively without causing confusion. Why try forcing someone into an uncomfortable situation that they are not ready for?

The expert witness will need to be just as confident as they are knowledgeable about their industry. This will clearly show on the stand if they come off as uncomfortable. Expert testimonies are based on 20% persuasion and 80% knowledge.

Conclusion

If the following strategies don’t help you reach success, perhaps it is time to let the expert go and shop around for another. As the litigator, it is not your job to thoughtfully explain the need for quality visual aids.