The prosecutor tried the entire case during his opening statement. Our attorney had not even prepared an opening statement. He chose to waive the opening statement. What attorney in their right mind waves the opening statement in a criminal case? A case, where a young man’s life is at stake. The prosecutor’s makes their opening statement and then the defense makes theirs. Our opening statement would be the last statement the jurors hear.
The opening statement is the stage of the trial where defense counsel gets the first opportunity to speak about the merits of his case. The opening statement is also the moment at trial when a lawyer makes the first impression to the jury of himself, his client, and the case to be presented.
One crucial function of an opening statement is to educate the jury about the defendant’s case. This involves conveying to the jury a theme and theory with which it should view the evidence to be presented. An opening statement captures the moral force of a case and communicates to the jury why one side is right and the other is wrong. In my son’s case, the defense’s theme should have been of how the alleged crime occurred and why he was not guilty.
The opening statement should have talked of misidentification. Our attorney should have attacked the memory of the prosecution’s star witness. After all , her 911 tape said that she could not identify the perpetrator. She said that half his face was covered but the nose looked familiar. He should talk of the factual unfairness of 2 photo lineups. He should have let it be known during opening statement that the evidence showed that the police showed the lady 2 photo line-ups, one in May and again in June The May photo line-up has none of the same people in it as the June photo lineup except for the defendant(my son). He should have said, I think that the evidence will suggest to you that in itself was unfairly suggestive. The lady was first shown a photographic spread with six people in it, one of whom was the defendant, and she said she couldn’t recognize anyone, and then she’s shown another photo lineup-that has none of the same people except the defendant(my son) in it. And, lo and behold, she picks out the defendant (my son) she still says that she cannot say for sure but she is 60% sure. He should have humanized my son and talked of his accomplishments. Three classes away from a Bachelors, VA volunteer, A/B honor roll, Boy Scout, soccer player, etc. He should have said the police report showed that my son’s cell phone was not being used in the area of the robberies. Imagine if the jurors heard that in an opening statement. But they didn’t because our attorney waived his opening statement. He said NOTHING. There were so many other things that our attorney could have said during an opening statement as you will see as I continue with what happened at the trial but he chose to say NOTHING
If you waive opening, the jury won’t even know what points, especially subtle points being made during cross examination of the State’s witnesses that add to our credibility. They have listened with keen interest to the prosecutor. Now it is the defense to make a statement and NOTHIMG.
Any reasonable juror would be thinking: What the heck are we doing here, this guy is obviously guilty! Now all eyes turn to the defense each asking: So, what have you got you say about all that?
What does our defense team say?
The opening statement is the defense’s chance to make a first impression to the judge and jury.
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression