Monday, June 24, 2013
We have completed the first day of trial and it was bizarre.
Jim Guy’s opening statement was unlike any opening statement that I have ever heard. Focused and powerful it seemed more like a persuasive closing argument or summation of the evidence than an opening statement.
Opening statements are opportunities to educate jurors, who likely do not know very much about the case. Therefore, the emphasis should be on clarifying rather than selling a point of view. That is why lawyers preface statements about the evidence during opening statements with the introductory phrase, “We believe the evidence will show,” or establish something certain about the case.
The goal is to keep the presentation simple, accurate and relatively easy to recall (the KISS rule). Argument, spin and minutiae are not helpful.
The defense opening statement was too long, too argumentative and too detailed.
On multiple occasions Mr. West violated a fundamental rule of opening statements by asserting certain facts as undisputed when they are disputed. He also made false assertions of fact that can easily be disproven.
The prosecution called four witnesses:
1. Chad Joseph
He is Brandi Green’s 15-year-old son. He and Trayvon were playing a video game when Trayvon said he was going to walk to the 711 and asked him if he wanted anything. He said Skittles. Trayvon left and he never saw him again. He was wearing headphones and could not hear.
2. Andrew Gaugh
He was the clerk at the 711 who handled Trayvon’s transaction. He does not have an independent recollection of the transaction.
3. Sean Knopke
He was the 911 operator who fielded GZ’s call. Denies that he would have told GZ to folloe or find Trayvon and call him back with the update. They have a policy that prohibits doing that.
4. Ramona Rumph
She is the custodian of records for the 911 call center. She brought the records for all of GZ calls.
O’Mara objected when the prosecutor began to question her about a previous 911 call by the defendant that is almost identical. The implication is that the defendant has a script that he uses to report suspicious activity.
Basis of the objection: inadmissible uncharged misconduct pursuant to Rule 404(b).
Discussion ensued without a resolution. Judge Nelson recessed the trial until 8:30 am EDT when she will resume the discussion regarding O’Mara’s objection.
She told the jury to return at 9 am.
SUMMARY: Prosecution off to a good start. Defense stumbled badly out of the gate with a poor opening statement and both defense counsel exhibited poor judgment, lack of respect for Judge Nelson and the dignity of the Court, and anger management issues.
Defense hostility and lack of respect for Judge Nelson is obvious. The jurors cannot have failed to see it and likely were offended. Difficult to respect defense counsel when they act like spoiled children.
I will see you all at 8:30 am EDT.
Here’s the link to the livestream coverage.
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