Jury Duty, Part 3: The Opening Statements

In which we hear opening statements from both sides

The first day of the actual trial, we hear opening statements. The district attorney states a pretty impassioned case against the 3 defendants. Of course, that opening statement (and the statements of the defense) are not evidence* and are not to be considered such.

The opening statement of the DA is pretty rough. She has accused Defendant 1 of many things, but mostly it boils down to: robbery, kidnapping, and the murder of 2 bystanders. I’m mostly going to be focusing on Defendant 1, because Defendants 2 and 3 are what appear to be minor players and only tangentially linked to the alleged crimes (see also: felony murder rule). She then takes us through her exhibits, which involved pictures of the deceased.

The images were…well, I’ve been using the internet now for 2 decades, and have been to some pretty seedy places (tons of IRC, 4chan, stileproject, etc) so I am pretty inured of pictures of dead bodies at this point. It was still different when you know it was a real, local person. Anyway, when the pictures of the deceased woman are shown, someone in the audience has an outburst and has to leave the room. Pretty…distracting. Actually, having an audience at all is really off-putting, but I understand the need for it.

There is security camera footage from next door of some of the defendants, but not aimed at the scene of the murders. There is also footage of the car that is alleged to have taken part in the robbery, as well as one of the victims.

The DA spends over 90 minutes on her opening statement, at which point the judge calls it a day; it’s 4pm and the defense attorneys (understandably) don’t want to break their opening statements up over 2 days. We are told to come back at 9:30 the next day to continue.

The next day: the defense for defendant Defendant 1 makes his opening statements. His point is that the murders are unsolved because we don’t know who did it, and the DA is just trying to find someone guilty because an alleged felony happened at the time (see also: felony murder rule). This lawyer is a very good speaker as he is an private lawyer who has his own firm: he was called into this case late because of the special circumstances of the charges against his client.

He also reminds me of an elderly Saul Goodman, which is very disconcerting.

The lawyers for the other two defendants are public defenders and generally pretty awful speakers, and it is actually painful to hear them speak. It’s going to be a long trial.

The Jury Duty Saga