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“Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, although you are going to hear and see a lot of evidence about my client’s injuries in this case, there is only one issue for you to decide. That is whether my client is exaggerating of faking her symptoms or not. If you believe that the evidence shows that she is exaggerating or faking her injuries, then you should send her out of here without a dime.
But if the evidence shows you that she is truly injured, you should give her full compensation and send a message to the defense that they should be ashamed of trying to imply that she is not. With that in mind, I would now like to tell you the story of what all the evidence in this case will show.”
Frame the issues for the jury
As the plaintiff’s attorney you get to speak to the jury first in the opening statements portion of the trial. You thus have a golden opportunity to frame the issues in a way that tells the jury the truth of what the defense is going to try to do to your client.
What the defense is going to try to do is to imply or insinuate that there are inconsistencies in your client’s medical records or find other ways to imply your client is untruthful without ever coming out and saying so. Although the defense will not come out and say it directly, they are trying to imply that your client’s injury is not real or not as bad as your client’s doctor says it is.
If the defense attorney objects
Making your opening statement as Rick Friedman suggests alerts the jury to what the defense is going to try to do. The defense attorney may object and tell the judge that you are not telling the jury what the evidence is going to show. That defense objection should not be sustained, however, because your words are all about what the evidence is going to show.
In addition, the defense attorney who objects runs a risk in the event his objection is not sustained. If the objection is not sustained that defense attorney then has a jury who thinks he or she is trying to hide things from them right from the start of the trial.
The defense medical examiner
This first part of your opening will also be related to your cross examination of the defense medical examiner. That medical examiner will usually say that the plaintiff was injured but the injury was minor and required only six to eight weeks of treatment.
When you cross examine the defense medical expert and ask him or her to state whether or not your client is exaggerating her symptoms, the jury should remember what you said in your opening. They will be watching and listening to see if the doctor is going to do what you said the defense would do in implying your client is exaggerating or faking.
Polarize the Defense
If the defense medical examiner starts minimizing your client’s injuries you should be prepared to follow the suggestions of Rick Friedman in his book Polarizing the Defense. In that situation you need to make that medical examiner be clear in whether he or she thinks your client is exaggerating or faking. If the medical examiner does not have the nerve to say what he or she truly thinks, the jury should be able to see for themselves what you told them the defense was going to try to do to your client.
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The Law Offices of John P. Burns
29222 Rancho Viejo Road
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Phone: (949) 496-7000
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