Opening Statements completed and four witnesses testify in Zimmerman trial

June 25, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Good morning:

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.

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbcnews.com/52117880/

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Opening statements in the Zimmerman trial today

June 24, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Good morning:

Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 9 am EDT, but they probably will not start before 9:15 because both sides are going to want to get a ruling from Judge Nelson before opening statements on the defense argument that several statements by the defendant after the shooting to W13 and the police are admissible pursuant to the res gestae exception to the hearsay rule.

She previously granted the State’s motion in limine to exclude all of the defendants statements after the shooting on the ground that they were self-serving hearsay. The statements at issue today were excluded pursuant to that ruling. Therefore, the defense cannot mention them in their opening statement, unless Judge Nelson reverses her earlier decision regarding these particular statements.

They want to mention the statements during their opening statement because GZ said he killed TRayvon Martin in self-defense.

The State likely will oppose the defense motion with an argument similar to the one that I made in my Friday evening post.

I believe opening statements are extremely important because they provide the first and only opportunity for each side to explain their respective theories of the case to the jury and briefly discuss the supporting evidence. Many lawyers compare an opening statement to a road map. If a lawyer makes a good opening statement, jurors will have a good overview of the case and the evidence that will be presented. If a lawyer makes a bad opening statement, the jurors will be confused and not know what to expect.

An opening statement should not exceed 20 minutes. Therefore, clarity and brevity are important. Detail, not so much.

An opening statement is not an argument. For that reason you will hear the lawyers often say, “We expect the evidence will show ABC or XYZ.

If a lawyer starts arguing what the evidence means, you should expect opposing counsel to object.

Prior to opening statements, Judge Nelson will instruct the jury that the remarks of counsel are not evidence.

Evidence consists of the testimony of the witnesses and the exhibits admitted by Judge Nelson.

I am hoping the State will mention what the evidence will show about GZ’s phone calls before and after he killed Trayvon.

Bernie de la Rionda (BDLR) has to decide whether to introduce any of the defendant’s statements during the State’s case in chief or save them for rebuttal.

He could do it either way, but the less he introduces during his case in chief, the more likely GZ will testify.

Here’s the link to the livestream coverage.

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbcnews.com/52117880/

______________________________________________________________

Your continuing support allows me to continue posting independent articles like this.

Please consider making a donation to keep independent journalism alive.

Thank you


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