This page is the exclusive domain of Michael J. Hart, an attorney in private practice in Saint Louis, Missouri. Though currently under construction, it will soon feature Mr. Hart’s wit, wisdom, and insight about the practice of law, the political arena, current events, world news, the Saint Louis Cardinals, little-known holidays, and sweet-ass wigs.
The Opening Statement
by Michael J. Hart, Esq.
I would like to thank Mr. Eastman for the opportunity to write for this blog. By way of introduction, my name is Mike Hart, and I’m an attorney with a local firm in Clayton, Missouri. I live in Brentwood and returned to Saint Louis county after I graduated law school from the University of Tulsa in 2007.
I’ve been looking for an opportunity to blog and write more creatively and I appreciate this chance. Also, I am open to feedback, criticism and, if applicable, fan mail.
The name of this blog is appropriately titled “Hart to Hart,” after the mildly popular television show of the same name which aired on ABC from 1979 – 1984. “Hart to Hart” was about a millionaire CEO and his attractive wife who spent their leisure time as amateur detectives. Unfortunately, I am not an amateur detective, nor do I have an attractive wife (yet). About the only thing I have in common with Jonathan Hart is the last name Hart. Well, I can also tie a mean bow tie.
Originally, I had several ideas for my first blog post. Before I scared any potential followers away, I decided that it would be best not to talk about politics, religion, dating or sports.
I finally decided that there could be an easy topic for my first blog entry – the opening statement. Seeing as how an attorney is writing this column and it’s his first post, the topic of the opening statement made the most sense. Black’s Law Dictionary defines the opening statement: “at the outset of a trail, an advocate’s statement giving the fact-finder a preview of the case and the evidence to be presented.” Further, “although the opening statement is not supposed to be argumentative, lawyers – purposefully or not – often include some form of argument. The term is thus sometimes referred to as opening argument.” Simple enough, right?
The opening statement is an important part of a trial. A great opening statement can pave the way for a great trial. This notion isn’t rocket science, but writing a great opening statement might be. Aside from voir dire (picking the jury), it is the lawyer’s first crack at presenting the case. It’s the lawyer’s chance to impress upon the jury (or the judge) what his case is about, and what he will present. It is more or less a road map of how the lawyer intends to present the case, or the defense. Almost always, the plaintiff presents his opening statement first, and then the defendant has a chance to present his.
Very rarely do attorneys make objections to opposing counsel’s opening statements. This is somewhat of a professional courtesy. Objections can be made, however, if opposing counsel’s conduct is so outrageous and egregious that an attorney has no choice but to object.
While it is largely inappropriate to compare writing a blog entry to something as serious as trial, it is fair to give this opening statement, this preview of my blog. I plan on writing about a little of everything – my topics will range from intelligent discussions of political issues, to sports, to discussions of wigs in 19th century courtrooms. I hope my posts will engage you, and I hope you will provide feedback. My goal is to provide you with a little bit of education, a little bit of humor and a little bit of my world.
Again, I am looking forward to writing this blog and I hope you enjoy reading it. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, thank you for your attention.