Your opening statement is an opportunity to be creative and show your personal style. But as defense counsel, there are points you’ll always want to make; using an outline will help you to stay focused and organized.
An episode of This American Life described the failed effort to get a Tic-tac-toe-playing chicken into evidence in the death penalty case of a mentally ill man with a very low IQ. Defense counsel was trying to rebut a psychiatrist’s testimony that the defendant was aware he was going to be executed based on his beating her in a game of Tic-tac-toe. We’ll never know who would have won the game; the court refused to admit the chicken because it “would degrade the dignity of the court.” Although the chicken didn’t work out, demonstrative evidence can be a very powerful courtroom tool.
Modern technology has had a major impact on the way that we do almost everything. As attorneys, it has changed the way that we develop and present evidence as well as the manner in which we present and argue cases at trial. Because judges and jurors will more likely remember a vivid visual presentation than a complex and dry presentation of the raw data in documentary or testimonial form, attorneys need to integrate visual presentation techniques into their cases.