Georgia Bar Journal, Vol. 9, No. 1 (August 2003), pp. 18-23


Every lawyer who sits down to plan her opening remarks for a coming trial has the same question: How far can I go in arguing my case during the opening statement? Can I mention the law? What about drawing a diagram of the accident on a blackboard? Will my opponent be able to stop me from displaying a couple of my dramatic exhibits to the jury?

Making one's theory of the case "stick" from the very start of the trial depends mightly on how far the lawyer can go in opening statement. Where the defense is primarily a legal or statutory one, knowledge of whether counsel can guide the jury by reading a defense-friendly regulation to them is critical. If a plaintiff i catastrophically injured, exposing to the jury a photo of his mangled body at the scene of a collision is strong medicine at the start of the case. Is it allowed?

The aim of this article is to assist Georgia practitioners in effectively preparing an opening statement and to provide a blueprint for responding to objections that would frustrate that goal. By working within the legal boundaries that control opening remarks, counsel can creatively present their case at this vital stage of the trial. She can indeed make her theories stick.