Why is the Opening Statement such an important part of the trial?
“Social sciences tell us that at the end of the opening statement, 80-90 % of jurors have made up their mind. Which doesn’t mean they aren’t going to listen throughout the trial, but they have formed an impression/feeling about the case, and from that point on, everything they hear during the rest of the trial is going to be fitted to the framework of what their impressions and emotions are. So it’s our chance to create a favorable impression with the jurors and to frame the case in such a way that, as long as we maintain our credibility, we can ultimately be victorious.”
How has your use of the Opening Statement evolved over the years?
“Early on in my practice, it was very, I won’t say scattered, but a “sparse framework”, of trying to describe for the jury what I anticipated the testimony would be and what the case was going to be about. A very rough framework that I have found, to not be that important at all. Now, the opening statement is something I prepare for weeks in advance of the trial and as Gerry says, and I believe to be, coupled with the voir dire examination, they are the most important parts of the trial.”
What is the number one take-away for attendees of the upcoming Texas Opening Statement Regional Seminar?
“The number one take-away will be the ability to discover and understand and relate to a jury the story of their client’s case. I think that until you’ve done that, and gone through that process, you really can’t adequately represent your client. I mean, its one thing to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the case, but its quite another thing to have discovered the story and felt some of the emotional content of the case so that you can relate that to the jury.”
Join President Sloan at the Opening Statement Seminar!
Hilton Austin Airport, Austin, TX
April 30 – May 3, 2015
REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Monday, APRIL 27!!
About President John Sloan:
John Sloan was born in Kilgore, Texas in June of 1954, and was raised in Henderson, Texas. He received his undergraduate degree from Baylor University in 1977 and in 1980 he received a Juris Doctor degree from Baylor University School of Law. John sold his law books back to the Baylor book store to buy enough gasoline to get back to his hometown for his first job as a lawyer. He started working for a family friend with a general law practice a few days after law school graduation in his hometown of Henderson, Texas. John was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in May,1980, and his trial experience began early on in his career as he was lead counsel in a murder trial that began two weeks after getting his bar results. It was the first case John had ever seen tried from beginning to end. In his first three years of practice, he tried everything from criminal cases to boundary line disputes until going out on his own and moving to the big city of Longview, Texas (population 75,000). At that point, John decided to concentrate on personal injury cases. Today, in addition to the Courts of Texas, John is admitted to practice before the United States District Courts for the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Districts of Texas, United States Court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States Supreme Court. John has been selected as a “Texas Super Lawyer” by Texas Monthly Magazine every year since 2003. John Sloan has tried over 100 cases to a jury verdict and has a national trial practice, having successfully handled cases in many states across America. John is board certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a certified Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. John attended the Trial Lawyers College as a student in 1998 after being a long admirer of Gerry Spence, having read every book that Gerry had written to that point. In addition, John’s hometown friend, Dax Cowart, had attended the College in 1996 and was instrumental in encouraging John to apply and attend TLC. After serving for several years on it’s faculty, John joined the TLC Board of Directors in 2009 and is currently serving as President. One of John’s other passions is volunteer service. He is on the Board of Directors of the Longview Habitat for Humanity, an organization with the philosophy that everyone should be entitled to safe, decent housing; and for Justice for Children, a non-profit that advocates for at-risk children in situations where there is a threat of abuse and/or neglect. John is married to Dee Anne and has two children: Trey, 29, and Nika, 10. He enjoys participating in triathlons, hunting, working on his ranch, and all outdoor activities.
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