Opening Statements – A party’s road map of what the evidence will be at trial and what it will mean. An opening argument, or opening statement, is a review of the claims and defenses in the case, as seen through a preliminary review of the evidence that counsel anticipates will be presented, along with the factual meaning the counsel hopes will be ascribed to that evidence by the finder of fact.

Opening argument before a jury is usually more elaborate and specific than would be expected before a judge in a bench trial, who is (or should be) already familiar with the evidence to be presented. Opening argument before a jury may not raise claims that are not intended in good faith to be argued, may not introduce matter not relevant to the case, may not attempt to inflame the passions of the jury for or against any party, and should not attempt to rebut evidence of the other party’s case in chief that has yet to be introduced or to impeach witnesses who have not yet testified in the action.