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Friday, June 4, 2010

Opening Statement Drills

Drill #1.

Goals: Counsel will perform an opening statement focusing on a particular aspect or aspects of the doctrine of opening statements chosen by the instructor.

Situation: The opening statement comes from a current case file, a popular movie or other story known to the class. You can have them deliver an entire opening or a section, but you should narrow your critique to one of the seven principles of opening statements discussed earlier.

Requirements: Counsel will include one of the following in their opening statement as defined by the instructor. Set a time limit, perhaps 8-10 minutes for a full opening, less if you are only evaluating a portion of the opening. Elements you may choose to focus counsel on include:

1. Theme
2. Organization
3. Primacy and recency
4. Humanizing the accused or victims.
5. Language
6. No opinions.
7. Use exhibits.
8. Defuse weaknesses.
9. Incorporating anticipated instructions.
10. Physical presence.

There is no “school solution” to this exercise. Stop them during their statements if they deliver information that is objectionable, unclear, argumentative, or misleading. Concentrate on the aspect of opening statements that is the focus of this drill and on which you gave counsel notice to prepare. This also enables you to conduct many opening statement drills, because aspects of the same statement can be given more than one time, until the teaching value is exhausted.

Drill #2 - Tell Us a Little About Yourself.

Goal: To get the student on their feet talking in a story telling fashion. This drill is designed to produce the sorts of techniques that are necessary for a superior opening statement.

Situation: This drill works well in an introductory session or immediately prior to or immediately after a block of instruction on how to do an opening statement.

Requirements: The student will relate information about a portion of their life that they wish to share (or that you have specifically identified, such as Christmas morning, best birthday, wedding, ect.) using the fundamental principles of opening statements. Particular emphasis should be placed on telling the story by connecting the theme to admissible evidence.

1 comment:

  1. These are great drills. One of the biggest challenges in teaching trial advocacy is starting the class off right.