How to write an opening statement

How to write an opening statement

If you need to write an opening statement but aren’t a lawyer, you might be getting ready to take part in a mock trial. Mock trials are immersive learning experiences that provide students with the opportunity to learn about the justice system while enhancing academic skills. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and the opening statement is where that first impression takes place during a mock trial, which is why it’s so important to write a good one.

Opening Statement in a Mock Trial

An opening statement is basically an introduction to the nature and facts of a case. Given at the beginning of a trial, an opening statement is an opportunity for lawyers on both sides to give the jury a brief overview of the case, and outline the key evidence that you will present. How you write your opening statement depends on which side of the case you are writing it for.

Opening Statement for the Prosecution/Plaintiff

If you were assigned the role of attorney for the prosecution or plaintiff, you will be the first to deliver your opening statement, which means yours is the first side the jury will hear. The purpose of your opening statement is to highlight the key facts of the case and circumstances surrounding it, summarize critical evidence and identify the request for relief that your client is seeking (jail time for criminal cases or money for civil cases).

Opening Statement for the Defense

If you get the role of defense attorney, you will give your opening statement immediately following the prosecution or plaintiff’s statement. Yours is the last thing the jury will hear before the questioning begins. Remember that as the defense attorney, your role is not to prove your client’s innocence (he’s already presumed innocent until proven guilty), but rather to call the validity of the prosecution or plaintiff’s case into question. The purpose of your opening statement is to essentially deny the claims made by the prosecution or plaintiff, and highlight the key facts of the case from the defendant’s perspective.

Features of a Good Opening Statement

No matter what side of the case you are on, your opening statement should include the name of the case, your name, your client’s name, your opponent’s name and a summary of the key facts and evidence. A good opening statement is one in which you provide a complete and compelling narrative of events that supports the side you represent without going into too much detail or making specific arguments. Strong opening statements make it easy for a jury to understand and remember by providing a roadmap of the case such as key facts you will try to prove and a summary of the witness testimony or other evidence that will help you prove those facts.

Opening Statement Pointers

Do write a compelling opening statement that clearly identifies the most important aspects of the case as it relates to your side. Lay out how you expect the trial to proceed and how you expect witnesses to testify. Memorize your opening statement. Knowing it by heart will make a better impression on the jury than if you read from a paper. Use proper body language and tone of voice to make a favorable impression as you deliver your opening statement. Last, but not least, do request a specific verdict. End the opening statement by asking the jury to find in favor of your side.

Don’t try to make specific arguments in your opening statement. Avoid bringing up legal principles or making arguments about how the law may apply to the facts of the case. Don’t mention any testimony or evidence that you cannot successfully back up during the trial. Don’t bog the jury down with too many details. Avoid exaggerations, overstatements and repetition of facts that are not in dispute. Don’t anticipate what the other side will say, and don’t bring up your opponent’s strong points during your opening. Finally, avoid pacing or walking in circles while you deliver your opening statement because this tends to distract the jury.

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Step-by-Step Breakdown of Opening Statements

The above YouTube video about Opening Statements is probably my most in-depth video about trial advocacy to date.

In it, I walk you through the 10 steps to having the best Opening Statement ever.

Each step is strategically placed within your presentation so you can maximize your Opening Statement.

I made this video after releasing my mini E-Book the 10-Step Formula to the Perfect Opening Statement.

If you haven’t received your FREE download yet, then what are you waiting for.

In fact, so much thought went into this Ultimate Guide to Opening Statements, that the above video is a lesson in Trial Ad Academy.

So whether you’re figuring out how to deliver a mock trial opening statement or you’re preparing for an actual trial, check out the video and then keep reading!

The best part about Opening Statement.

Compared to the other parts of trial, Opening Statement can be the most planned.

At this point in trial, you have typically just ended jury selection (or “voir dire” for the fancy folks) and you have the entire trial ahead of you.

In other words, your opening statement is not dependent on many variables so you should always write an opening statement script before your trial or mock trial.

As a result, there are two things that may impact your Opening Statement.

I. Motion in Limine

The first one is the other side’s Motion in Limine.

If you don’t know what a Motion in Limine is or if you want to better understand its importance, then definitely watch this video here.

Using a Motion in Limine the correct way can be an absolute game changer and can have a major impact on an Opening Statement.

For example, if the judge decides to grant the other side’s Motion in Limine on a fact or piece of evidence, then you’re not goin to be able to bring that fact up during your Opening Statement.

II. Jury Selection

Just because Jury Selection has ended, that doesn’t mean you forget about everything that happened as you were getting answers from potential jurors.

Instead, you want to arm yourself with portions of jury selection that you can use during your Opening Statement.

But we’ll talk about this in more detail later on in this post.

How to write an opening statement

How to write an Opening Statement.

Using the 10-Step Formula described in the above video, you can apply the facts and theme of your case to each step.

And in order to write a winning Opening Statement, you’ll want to avoid being over-the-top with the drama.

Opening statement is all about previewing the case for the jury. It is not about arguing the case (if you start arguing, then you may raise an objection from opposing counsel).

So your goal is to come off as a teacher while you subtly and gently argue your case in a persuasive way.

In fact, you may want to lean towards underpromising so that you can eventually overdeliver during Closing Argument.

If you’re wondering how you can achieve this balance, then you may want to check out this post about opening statement examples and watch this opening statement example on YouTube.

While watching, act like you’re a juror. And then ask yourself whether the lawyer is effectively and persuasively previewing the case.

After looking at a couple of opening statement examples, it won’t take you long to figure out what a good balance should be.

Finally and most importantly, your Opening Statement script should have blank spaces!

Yes, blank spaces!

A key to the best Opening Statement ever.

Here’s the catch — if you write 100% of your Opening Statement by scripting it out and present that entire Opening Statement to the jury, then I can guarantee that your Opening Statement was not the best it could be.

Instead, you should cater all of your Opening Statements to the particular jury that you are in front of.

To do this, you should implement aspects of what has occurred prior to delivering your opening statement.

For example, the judge will most likely talk to the jury a couple of times before you start previewing the case (usually about procedural things).

In that situation, you either want to incorporate some of the judge’s statements into your Opening Statement to piggyback on his authority or you want to omit any portions that might be redundant to what the judge has already said.

Similarly, jury selection (or “voir dire” for the fancy folks) comes before Opening Statement as well. So you should always, ALWAYS incorporate tidbits from jury selection into your Opening Statement outline. Doing so will continue the bond that you have developed during jury selection. See how you can do that here.

If the idea of not sticking 100% to your Opening Statement script freaks you out a little, then read on!

Practice makes perfect.

Now that you have your Opening Statement outline written out, then you need to practice presenting it.

I know, I know. It’s not sexy or cool to practice a presentation in the mirror or in front of people.

And I know that “practice makes perfect” is overused these days.

But, I can guarantee you that practice will be the best way to iron out any wrinkles of your Opening Statement.

And just because you have an amazing Opening Statement written down, that doesn’t mean it is going to sound or look amazing.

So I recommend that you practice both your movement, voice inflections, and pauses when delivering your Opening Statement.

Trust me, you don’t want the actual jury or mock trial judges to be your guinea pig.

Plus, by practicing, you can simulate different variables for the blank spaces that you’ve incorporated. This will make you 100x more comfortable on game day.

And here’s a hidden bonus.

By reciting and rehearsing your Opening Statement, you’ll simultaneously be preparing yourself to make a great Closing Argument because the outlines will be similar.

It doesn’t matter whether your resume is scanned by a machine or a real person during the initial phases of a recruitment process. In either case, the most important part of your resume is your opening statement.

There are basically three options for opening your resume: an objective statement, a summary statement or an offering statement.

An “objective statement” explains, usually in one sentence, what you’re seeking in a job as a job applicant. It briefly describes your personal interests.

A “summary statement” tends to go into more detail and communicates what you can bring to the table in terms of the job at hand.

Like an “objective statement,” an “offering statement” is also very short. It says, “This is what I can do for you.” It helps you focus your job marketing plan on meeting your targeted employer’s needs.

Let’s look at each of these options in more detail.

Objective Statement

Articulating an objective can convince employers that you know what you want to do and are familiar with the field.

“Stating your objective on your resume is optional — having an objective for your resume is not; you need to be clear about your employment goals,” writes Alison Doyle, a job search expert with many years of experience in human resources, career development, and job searching.

If you include an objective on your resume, Doyle points out, it’s important to customize your resume objective to match the position you seeking. The more specific your resume objective is the better chance you’ll have of being considered for the job.

Here is a sample resume objective statement:

“Obtain a position within the pulp paper industry where I can utilize my management skills and experience in quality assurance, program development, and training.”

Summary Statement

A summary statement can quickly and effectively brand yourself to a prospective employer, according to Dana Leavy, founder of Aspyre Solutions career coaching in New York, which helps young and mid-level professionals through the process of career transitions and effective job search strategy.

Highlight your most relevant strengths, skills and core competencies that are unique to you as a candidate, versus a trait or skill that’s an industry or professional standard (i.e. “multi-tasker” or “team-player”), says Leavy.

The summary statement should be approximately four to six lines and speak to your professional background only, according to Leavy. Do not address any outstanding circumstances (employment gaps, change of career, personal experiences etc.). A cover letter is an expanded version of the summary statement, and, in the cover letter, you will have an opportunity to address those other circumstances, should you feel it necessary.

Here is a sample resume summary statement:

“Hands-on executive officer with extensive experience in food processing industry, recognized nationally for planning, developing, implementing and measuring corporate-wide internal and external marketing and branding communication programs designed to align corporate goals with stakeholder interests, resulting in long-term stability and growth.”

Note that, in the above example, the candidate touched on the following key elements:

  • Core strengths and skill sets most relevant to his or her role
  • Past relevant experience with key functions
  • Notable accomplishments that he or she intends to repeat in the next role

Offering Statement

Blogger Mary Ann offers this recommendation about the focus of your resume’s opening statement:

“Replace the typical ‘objective statement’ that begins pretty well every resume with an ‘offering’ statement.’ The former is ‘me’ oriented, and the latter is ‘employer’ oriented. An ‘offering statement’ is brief, reflecting well-selected accomplishments and skills of the job applicant, using action words. An employer is more interested in what an applicant has to offer than what the applicant’s personal objectives are.”

Mary Ann’s observations coincide with what Nick Corcodilos, the headhunter, maintains. In his book, “How Can I Change Careers?” , Nick writes:

“. Go back to your past accomplishments. What skills did you use? Make a list of those skills to help you think about them. How did each accomplishment help your company become more successful or profitable? It doesn’t have to be a huge difference that you made, but it has to be a difference that contributed to the bottom line. Now take those skills and ask yourself, ‘How would I apply them to solve the problems and meet the challenges of the companies I want to work for?

“. It takes a lot of work to develop this kind of statement. You have to learn a lot about the company you are pursuing, including exactly what kind of specific help a particular manager needs.”

Mary Ann’s “offering statement” is what Nick calls a “value offered” statement. Regardless of precisely what it is called, the idea is to present your skills and accomplishments in terms of the value you bring to meeting the employer’s needs.

A well-written offering statement, although not necessarily easy to write, is easy and quick to present and pass along to the right decision maker.

Here is a sample resume offering statement:

“I will enhance your company web site’s usefulness as a marketing channel by developing it as a gathering place for those within your niche disability audience who seek opportunities to discuss issues which are important to them.”

In this example, the jobseeker is marketing a service designed to meet a need for a specific person within a particular company — a service that only he or she can best provide. That targeted employer could be the marketing manager of a company which is trying to promote its particular line of adaptive technology for workplace situations through a static web site.

An offering statement is like a summary statement for a business plan. Like an offering statement, a summary statement in a business plan often succinctly defines what value a proposed project has for potential investors. In an offering statement, you’re briefly describing what value (specific benefits) you offer your potential supervisor.

You can often use your offering statement outside of your resume and portfolio. It can come in handy when you are updating your profile in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking situation.

In all three approaches, the upfront statement is often the first item read, so get to the point. As briefly as possible, tell why your prospective employer should hire you — regardless of which option you use.

The saying goes that you only get one chance to make a first impression. In an essay, the same is true, with the first words functioning as the first impression a reader sees. An opening statement helps to set the tone for your overall essay. It also gives the reader a sense of the direction you will be taking in your essay. Essay writing is different from most other types of writing you will be required to write in school and college. The opening statement sets the tone for the rest of the essay. If a professor assigns a personal essay, he may expect your personal perspective on a topic. In an academic essay, using first person to explain that same personal perspective is not part of the guidelines. Because of those different expectations in essay content, your essay opening statement may vary in tone and perspective. However, the actual writing process involves many of the same ideas.

Explore this article

1 Develop Your Essay Outline

Develop an outline for your overall essay. Developing an outline is an important step in bringing together your ideas on a subject and making sure that you cover the topic as thoroughly as possible. Since most opening statements summarize or at least foreshadow the contents of the essay, this outline will help you formulate your opening statement as well as the body of your essay. For example, if your essay is about the development of the Roman legions, the topic headings you use in the outline can also be used as the core of your opening statement.

2 Develop Your Essay Thesis

Next, develop the thesis for your opening statement. Write a thesis that will help to encapsulate the theme of your essay for the reader. The opening statement should make clear what the essay is about and what approach you are going to take. In a general way, you can also give your opinion on the subject while still leaving the details to the main body of the essay’s text.

3 Essay Opening Statement

When appropriate to the essay type, try thinking outside the box to get creative with your opening statement based on the assignment’s expectations. Keep in mind that academic essays may have different requirements than a personal essay. This means that the respective opening statements also vary with each essay’s guidelines. Creativity is more relevant to a personal essay. One of the main purposes of any opening statement is to grab the reader’s attention. For instance, if you are writing an essay in a history or social science class against war or materialism, you might want to quote a line from a John Lennon song like “Imagine” or start with a quote from Gandhi.

How do you write a prosecution opening statement for a mock trial?

Here is a template and suggestions for writing a prosecution opening:

  4. Examples:
  5. Anticipate the defense theories:

How do you write a good closing statement?

Generally, closing arguments should include:

  1. a summary of the evidence.
  2. any reasonable inferences that can be draw from the evidence.
  3. an attack on any holes or weaknesses in the other side’s case.
  4. a summary of the law for the jury and a reminder to follow it, and.

How do you write a witness statement for a mock trial?

Tips for Direct Examination

  1. Tell the truth based on the witness affidavit.
  2. Stick to the script you have practiced.
  3. Stay in character during the entire trial, even when you are not testifying.
  4. Listen to the question.
  5. Don’t guess or speculate.
  6. Answer the question asked.
  7. Control the pace.
  8. Be polite and courteous.

How do I write a plaintiff closing statement?

Summarize the facts that have been presented through the evidence. Stress how these facts have confirmed the representations that you made in opening. Point out where your opponent has not been able to support statements made in opening. Explain the areas where your case has had weaknesses.

Can you object during opening statements?

Objections, though permissible during opening statements, are very unusual, and by professional courtesy are usually reserved only for egregious conduct. Generally, the prosecution in a criminal case and plaintiff in a civil case is the first to offer an opening statement, and defendants go second.

What is a strong closing statement?

The goal is to restate the thesis, summarize the essay’s body, and leave readers with a final impression. Key aspects to remember: A strong essay conclusion restates, not rewrites your thesis from the introduction. A strong essay conclusion consists of three sentences minimum.

What do judges say in the beginning of court?

Judge: “Prosecution, are you ready to begin.” Prosecution: “Yes your honor.” Judge: “The prosecution may make its opening statement.” “Your Honor and members of the jury, we know that _____________________ is guilty of violating the law.

What do lawyers say in their closing statement?

The lawyers’ closing arguments or summations discuss the evidence and properly drawn inferences. The lawyers cannot talk about issues outside the case or about evidence that was not presented. In their closing arguments the lawyers can comment on the jury instructions and relate them to the evidence.

How long is a closing statement?

Each closing argument usually lasts 20-60 minutes. Some jurisdictions limit how long the closing may be, and some jurisdictions allow some of that time to be reserved for later.

How do you make a powerful opening statement?

Opening Statement Checklist

  1. State your theme immediately in one sentence.
  2. Tell the story of the case without argument.
  3. Persuasively order your facts in a sequence that supports your theme.
  4. Decide whether to address the bad facts in the opening or not.
  5. Do not read your opening statement.
  6. Bring an outline, if necessary.

When do you write your closing argument in a mock trial?

How is a closing argument different from an opening statement?

What makes a good case for a mock trial?

When do closing statements take place in a trial?

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Once you have told the judge who you are the judge will ask for opening statements. First the Claimant/Applicant (the one that started the claim/application) will be asked to speak. The Respondent (the one the claim/application was served on) will be asked by the judge to give their opening statement either right after the Applicant’s given theirs or later after the Applicant has presented their closing statements.

Self-Rep’s Tip:

When the other side is delivering their opening, listen carefully and make notes of their key points so you can respond to them.

The purpose of an opening statement is to provide the judge with information of the issues and evidence you will be presenting to the court. It also helps a judge understand what has happened in your case so far. Remember this may be the first time your judge has seen you, and might not be up to speed on your case. An opening statement allows you to summaries the case up to that point, for instance you should inform the judge of any interim orders in place. You’re basically providing a map of where you’ve been and where you’re going. You’ll want to outline the basic framework of your case, leaving the details to be filled in by the witnesses. It helps to explain what the issues in the case are and what witnesses you will be calling to address those issues.

What to cover?

Judge’s Tip:

Briefly explain who your witnesses are and what they will be saying. For example, “I will be calling Jon Smith, my child’s family doctor, who will be speaking about the special child care needs of my child.”

The Dos and Don’ts of Opening Statements



  • Attend family court before your trial and observe others delivering opening statements
  • Practice presenting your opening statement in front of people or a mirror.
  • Write it down. Either write it all out or in point form to keep you on track
  • Stay calm and dispassionate. Make a good first impression by looking reasonable and composed
  • Make it as short as possible
  • Do not interrupt the other party when they are making their opening. If they say something you disagree with make a note of it and wait till your turn to speak.
  • Do not present evidence in your opening statement – Remember that comes later.
  • Do not be argumentative or dramatic during your opening statement

Fill out the Opening Statement Worksheet to help you prepare for your day in court.

How to write an opening statement

Can I skip the opening sentence for this post?

Let’s say you skip reading the first few sentences and start with the fourth?

I don’t like the pressure of writing a first sentence.

What if I fail to engage readers? What if I’m boring them? What if I’ve wasted my time on this article because my first line sucks?

The task of writing a catchy first sentence can paralyze even the most acclaimed writers. In an interview with the Atlantic, Stephen King admits he can spend months, or even years, on writing the opening lines for a new book.

Sounds crazy, right?

As business writers, we don’t have the luxury of time. We have other things to do than worrying about one line of text.

So what can we do?

Let me share with you a trick for writing a first sentence super-fast. But first, let’s define what a good opening line is.

An outrageously good opening sentence

This is how the novel “Nervous Conditions” by Tsitsi Dangarembga starts:

I was not sorry when my brother died.

Why is this sentence good?

It entices you to read on.

That first sentence creates drama because it instantly raises two compelling questions in readers’ minds: Why did the brother die? And why was the author not sorry? A reader reads on because he wants to find out the answers to these two questions.

An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.

One of the most famous opening sentences

This is how “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger starts:

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

This famous opening line is 63 words long.

Is such a long sentence a good idea?

Ben Blatt analyzed what makes a good novel great, and he also reviewed first sentences. His conclusions are not clear cut, as he summarizes in his book “Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve:”

The first sentence is only as popular as the rest of the book, and brevity alone will not make a first sentence great.

Our literary heroes may write lengthy first sentences.

But when writing for the web, we need to remember our readers. They’re not curled up on a comfy sofa with a book and a glass of Rioja. They’re hurrying across the web, searching for interesting articles to read and share. Who has the patience to start reading a block of text?

So, instead of following J.D. Salinger’s 63-word mammoth sentence, take your cue from Toni Morrison, the master of short first sentences, like this one from “Tar Baby:”

They shoot the white girl first.

From “God Help the Child:”

Each of these sentences makes you curious to read on.

Your first sentence has two purposes. First, get people to read your first sentence—a short sentence works better because it’s easy to read. Then, make sure they want to read your second sentence.

The worst opening lines

Ben Blatt quotes the opening line of the book “Paul Clifford” by Edward Bulwer-Lytton as one of the most ridiculed opening lines ever:

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

Not only is that sentence awfully long, its worst crime is that nothing happens. Nothing grabs attention. Nothing makes me curious. It’s simply a description of the weather. So what?

Of course, in business we rarely write about the weather, but you may have come across similar opening lines that fail to whet your appetite for reading more. For instance:

Many ways exist to choose your words.

As you know, Rome wasn’t built in one day.

In business, you have to take risks.

The above opening lines may be short, but they’re obvious statements, killing readers’ interest. There’s no incentive to read on.

More great opening lines

The first sentence of How to Kidnap the Rich by Rahul Raina:

The first kidnapping wasn’t my fault.

This sentence conjures up so many questions that I couldn’t help myself to read on. Who was kidnapped? How was the protagonist involved? What happened after the first kidnapping? And how and why were the subsequent kidnappings his fault? All these questions made me read on.

This is the opening line from Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones:

My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist.

Do you also want to know more? Why was her father an bigamist? How did the protagonist find out her father was a bigamist? What happened with the two marriages? Were their children in both marriages?

Sometimes, a long first sentence is great. like this one from The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett:

The morning one of the lost twins returned to Mallard, Lou LeBon ran to the diner to break the news, and even now, many years later, everyone remembers the shock of sweaty Lou pushing through the glass doors, chest heaving, neckline darkened with his own effort.

Why were the twins lost? Why did one return? And why did everyone remember?

A little-known shortcut for catchy opening sentences

Getting nervous about writing a good first sentence?

No need for nerves, when you know this blog writing trick …

Unlike novels, a blog post is often a conversation with our readers. And what easier way to engage readers than asking them a question?

In a face-to-face meeting, you often start a conversation with a question, like: Cup of tea? How did your meeting go? Or: How’s business?

Why not do the same in your writing?

The one magic opening line doesn’t exist

So, no need to search for it anxiously.

Instead, remember your reader.

Imagine him hurrying across the web. He’s feeling restless. He’s impatient because he’s been wasting his time reading lousy blog posts.

How can you engage him? How can you make him read your first sentence? And then the next?

A good writer draws a reader in, and doesn’t let him go until the last word.

When it comes to mock trials or debates in class, even good arguments can fall flat without a strong closing statement. Closing statements wrap up a trial’s or debate’s argument by making connections between the evidence and the claim or the verdict the lawyer wants the jury to reach.

How to Write a Good Closing Statement

To write a closing argument, look back at your opening statement. In a trial, an opening statement is a lawyer’s first chance to outline the facts of a case. Good opening statements are limited to just the introductory facts and should not attempt to sway the jury or audience with persuasive language. Instead, good opening statements outline what is to come in the rest of the trial and tell the jury what to expect.

If you have already written good opening statements, odds are, you already have an effective closing argument outline. Review your opening statement and compare it with the facts and evidence introduced during the case. While good closing statements simply outline what is to come in a mock trial, the best closing statements take those ideas a step further by explaining how they support the case. Use succinct language to clearly lay out how each piece of evidence backs up your main point. In planning, it may help to use if-then statements to establish causality in your reasoning. To help you in composing the most effective end to your speech, utilize a closing argument outline like the one below.

Closing Argument Outline

Restate your claim: What is the main idea of your argument?

Remind your audience of the evidence. Explain how each piece of evidence justifies your claim. How does the evidence show that your argument is true?

How does all of the evidence fit together to explain the puzzle of the case?

Finally, address why the jurors, judge or audience members should find the case in your favor. Try to sum up your reasoning in one short, well-formed sentence.

Closing Argument Example

Restate your claim: What is the main idea of your argument?

In conclusion, it is clear that the butler murdered the maid, because he left a trail of evidence from the kitchen into the study.

Remind your audience of the evidence. Explain how each piece of evidence justifies your claim. How does the evidence show that your argument is true?

Investigators found numerous muddy footprints leading into the study. All of these footprints were identical in pattern to the butler’s favorite loafers. These loafers are uncommon because they must be made special in Italy for the butler’s size 16 feet.

How does all of the evidence fit together to explain the puzzle of the case?

Given the muddy trail left by the butler and the argument between the butler and the maid that could be heard throughout the house, it is clear the butler did it.

Finally, address why the jurors, judge or audience members should find the case in your favor. Try to sum up your reasoning in one short, well-formed sentence.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, due to the preponderance of evidence, I ask you to find in favor of the butler’s guilt.