Ride the Ducks Trial Day 11: Opening Statement

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Tuesday October 16, 2018


Walk into courtroom with Alysha.  Most of law firm family have come to watch.  Clients many with co-counsel have arrived.  Some from around the world.    Press is establishing base camp in the rear.  As the minutes approach 9 the room fills. 

Put bags on the table.  Step out of tennies and into heels.  Walk behind 85” tv that is in front right corner of the room.  Breathe in and out.  Kevin the court reporter is setting up.  He says are you trying to avoid all the people.  Nod at him.  Smile.  Find center.

Judge Shaffer enters just before 9.  Jury comes in.  Sits.  Instructions are read.  Judge says:  now please turn your attention to the plaintiff for opening statement.

Am not the kind of person who can write out a speech then memorize it and spew out perfectly.  That just doesn’t work for me.  Instead, it is intensely internal.  Usually refined during runs through the neighborhood with Nala. 

Earlier when brainstorming with Artemis Malekour (trial consultant), told her thought of being the axle housing that eventually would break.  Have been inanimate objects before in trial.  If Disney can do it, well that’s good enough for me.  There is a story to be told and it needs a good narrator.  But somehow being an axle housing just doesn’t feel right. 

Over the weekend during a gorgeous run as passed view of Mount Rainier framed by the Space Needle, realize the narrator for the first part of opening should be the person who was the narrator in real life – the duck captain whose job required him to be both the entertainer and the driver.  Yesterday decide upon props.  Thank goodness for 1 day Amazon delivery which Jesica accomplishes.

Stand up. Get ready to speak and realize have to hold a giant microphone.  Cannot also use clicker at same time otherwise will not be able to wave hands about.  Work out thumbs up signal for Jesica to switch slides.  Introduce clients.  And let it flow.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the jury.  My name is Captain Roger Wilco.  This is September 24, 2015, and I’d like you to join us on a Duck ride.  There’s a few things I’m going to tell you about safety and what to expect on this ride, and a few things I’m not going to tell you about, because honestly, I don’t know those things.

Okay.  Am not going to win awards for being the slickest most suave attorney in the room.  That award goes to John Snyder the Philadelphia lawyer who has come in and taken over lead from Scott Wakefield (that must totally bite to litigate a case for 3 years and not be able to open).  Not even the second most polished which goes to Pat Buchanan who in her elegant suit and well modulated voice, actually says with a straight face that accidents happen even if you do everything right.

But bet you that four and a half months later, the jurors will remember that in opening statement, the plaintiff lawyer wore a captains hat and quacked.

Midway through opening take off hat and turn back into lawyer.  It ends as follows

Our focus is and has always been on the human tragedy that happened here, valuing that, respecting that, and honoring that.  Thank you  very much.

We break.   Dad is with Alysha.  He took the light rail to come watch.  Hug and kiss him.  He is smiling.  Says bye bye.  Talk to clients to make sure okay.