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Eric J. Bengtson, Esq. Civil defense attorney (No criminal stuff!) Davis & Young, APLC.

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Presentation on theme: "Eric J. Bengtson, Esq. Civil defense attorney (No criminal stuff!) Davis & Young, APLC."— Presentation transcript:


2 Eric J. Bengtson, Esq. Civil defense attorney (No criminal stuff!) Davis & Young, APLC

3 A trial summed up in a few words First: "We tell 'em what were gonna tell 'em," (opening statement); Second, "We tell 'em," (direct and cross-examination); and Third, "We tell 'em what we told 'em," (closing argument).

4 Opening Statements

5 Jurors Love a Good Story Be a storyteller Drama, intrigue, excitement Don’t make your jurors work to understand your story Chronological Avoid asides or interruptions to the flow of the story Focus on your first four minutes

6 Cast of Characters Let the jury know who is involved Help the jury understand which witnesses should be trusted and which witnesses should not

7 Your Story Can Win the Case Studies have shown that despite what the judge says, 80 percent of all jurors form their opinion of the case either during or immediately after opening statements. If the evidence presented during the trial is consistent with your story, you’re usually on your way to a win

8 Use Normal Words Avoid “lawyer” words Remember, you’re telling a story You don’t need to use the phrase “The evidence will show.”

9 Give the Jurors Something to Look At PowerPoint Presentation Photos Document Map Physical Evidence (gun, knife, etc.) Note: Need permission from judge and usually from the opposing attorney to use evidence during opening

10 What is your "theory" of the case? "This case is about…..” Short paragraph explaining what your case is about and why you should win it. Weave your theme into the story

11 What to call the defendant Prosecutor: Always refer to the defendant as “The Defendant” Defense Attorney: Never refer to your client as the defendant Use your client’s name

12 Be Physical So long as the judge will let you, move around the courtroom. Prosecutors: Point at the accused, deliver part of statements while glaring at the bad-defendant Defense Attorneys: Point at prosecutors, look accusingly at the prosecutor when talking about police overreaching, crime lab screw ups, etc. Use hand gestures

13 Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse Know your story inside and out Practice with a stopwatch again and again Videotape yourself with a cell phone Write out what you want to say, then practice, then revise

14 Closing Arguments

15 Say what needs to be said and stop Lawyers never get tired of hearing themselves talk, but jurors do Focus on the key elements of the case Highlight inconsistencies and weaknesses in the opposition’s case

16 Delivery Move around, but don’t pace (5-10 feet away from jury) Use the physical evidence Change the tone of your voice Don’t be afraid to be passionate Show the jury you care and you believe in your case

17 The Elements of the Crime Talk about the elements that need to be met in order for a guilty verdict Show the elements on a projector Show jury quotes from witness testimony that support your case

18 Burden of Proof Criminal: Beyond Reasonable Doubt Usually most effective for the defendant Point out that if the jury thinks that the defendant “might have”, “could have”, “possibly did” or even “probably did” that this is not “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

19 Circle back to opening statement Remind jury what you told them during your opening statement Point out the important areas where the evidence (testimony) was consistent with the story you told at the beginning of the case Point out areas where opposing side’s opening statement was not supported by the evidence

20 Don't read your argument! It’s okay to write out your argument beforehand, but it should not be used during the argument You’re a story-teller You’re convincing because you know the evidence and you know why the evidence proves your case

21 Thank the Jurors Let jurors know you and your client appreciate their willingness to spend their valuable time deciding this case

22 Finish strong with a call to action Tell the jury what they should do “You should find the Defendant guilty” “You should find the Defendant not guilty”


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