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What Your Opening Statement Should and Shouldn't Do: Some Surprising Advice

Steven H. Goldberg

Pace University - School of Law

Fall 1987

Criminal Justice, Vol. 2, No. 11, 1987

Prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys would do well to consider how civil trial lawyers fashion their opening statements. As with any other part of the trial, the primary question to be answered in constructing an opening statement is: What do I want to accomplish? In civil cases the answer is almost always that each lawyer wants to persuade the jurors that the lawyer's version ot the dispute is more likely to be correct than the opponent's. Opening statements in criminal trials, however, do not usually sound as if they were constructed with that goal in mind. Most fall into two categories: (1) long and detailed recitations of the evldene and the witnesses who will produce it, and (2) perfunctory appearances to comply with the trial list of "things to do" that includes "give opening statement."

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Date posted: December 22, 2008 ; Last revised: December 27, 2008

Suggested Citation

Goldberg, Steven H., What Your Opening Statement Should and Shouldn't Do: Some Surprising Advice (Fall 1987). Criminal Justice, Vol. 2, No. 11, 1987. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1319383

Contact Information

Steven H. Goldberg (Contact Author)
Pace University - School of Law ( email )
78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States
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