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Opening and Closing Arguments

Although the evidence of a trial technically takes place through the delivery of witness testimony and the presentation of exhibits, closing and opening arguments do, in fact, play a massive and significant role in how a jury ends up perceiving the evidence.  Opening arguments–which must track to the testimony that a party expects will get introduced through the evidence–are the first chance to tell the jury about your case.

At Asheville Legal, we like to introduce a “theme” to a given jury.  A theme is a prevailing principle that your evidence emphasizes or establishes, which you can harp on, circle back to, and utilize to refresh and refocus the jury later on.  It might be as simple as “a handshake means something”–a statement perhaps regarding the breach of a contract between two parties.  Or, it might emphasize the dishonest misconduct of a defendant– “If he had just told the truth, we wouldn’t be here.”

We also utilize opening arguments to introduce an idea to the jury so they may be more receptive to it later.  For example, we may tell the jury we are seeking $1,000,000 in damages (so long as the evidence supports it), while understanding a major victory might rather occur if we only recover $500,000.  Hearing the larger number will predispose the jury to grant the award we are shooting for.

Closing statements also present a significant opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the jury before they exit the courtroom to deliberate and reach a verdict.  During a closing, I will always reintroduce my theme.  Again, as long as the closing argument tracks the evidence that was presented, the lawyers have a lot of latitude in arguing their case here.  The closing also presents a significant opportunity to walk the jury through the documents and present arguments about those documents that may have been difficult or awkward to deliver through testimony.

One of the biggest advantages one can seize in litigation is to be the plaintiff when it comes to the jury trial.  This is because the plaintiff’s attorney gets to give the opening argument first and also gets to choose to give their closing argument last.  Being both the first and last attorney to present to a jury is a significant advantage because the jurors will better remember the first and last things they hear about the case.

If you are in the midst of a legal dispute and believe that you may need the assistance of a trial attorney, give Asheville Legal a call today.  We can craft opening and closing arguments that will connect to a jury, helping them to view your case more favorably when it comes to delivering a verdict.


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