Opening Statement In Products Liability Case
An opening statement is the opportunity an attorney has to win over a jury and persuade it to view the case from his perspective. It is a skeleton of the manner in which he hopes to present his case, what it is he is trying to achieve and how he proposes towards that end.
An attorney should speak in layman’s language which every member of the jury can understand. His case must be presented in simple, succinct terms. It should not be a dry monologue; rather the presentation must be graphic and hold the attention of the jury. It must contain brief facts and no exaggerations which the jury will keep in mind. An attorney could preempt his adversary by accepting at the outset the burden of proof he assumes, rather than let the opposing attorney tell this to the jury. He could invite the jury to understand what the weaknesses in his case are, and thereby gain its confidence and sympathy. Mention could be made in the presentation of damages sought.
In a product liability case it is advisable to give the jury an insight into the working and salient features of the product. Tell the jury of its purpose, safety features, relevant standards that apply and anything else that will give the jury a better understanding of the subject of dispute. If technical terms are likely to arise in the course of the case, the opening statement might be a good opportunity to explain them.
If an attorney has exploited this opportunity to establish a rapport with the jury the opening statement has more than served its purpose.
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