Tuesday, August 7, 2018


[DOJ Seal from wikipedia]

A lot has been written about the ongoing federal criminal jury trial of Paul Manafort.  Today, I don't intend to discuss the merits of the Mueller team's case against the former campaign coordinator of President Trump.  Instead, I want to focus on the government prosecutor's manner of making his opening statement.  He read it!

In particular, according to news reports, the prosecutor read his entire opening statement to the jury.  Reading an opening statement or a closing argument is a pet peeve of mine!  In my opinion, no trial lawyer should ever READ an opening statement!  Instead, I believe a good trial lawyer will be so prepared that he or she will be able to speak, without reading, their statement or argument.  Nobody likes to be read to.  Also, by speaking, instead of reading, a trial lawyer is better able to both make eye contact with jurors and to display a greater degree of confidence and preparedness!

As a former federal prosecutor in Augusta, Georgia for over twenty years, I prosecuted and saw countless federal criminal trials.  In my opinion, the best lawyers never read their openings or closings!

I am sure the government's attorney in this case is a fine lawyer!  But in my opinion, opening statements should be spoken but NOT read!

What do you think?

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