The Trial: Robinson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
The Attorney: Willie Gary
A strong opening statement introduces you and your case to the jury, laying the foundation for the evidence you'll introduce in the trial ahead. While these are all critical pieces of a winning opening, many attorneys give an understated, rote outline of the case to come, wasting this first, best opportunity to speak to jurors' hearts as well as their minds.
In Robinson v. R.J. Reynolds, Willie Gary turns the decision in this Engle progeny lawsuit into a moral imperative for the jury. His fiery oratory hammers at the difference between a corporation and its customers, admonishing the jury that it must hold a corporation to its duty to the public. Gary's fist-pumping indignation at the wrongs he claims have been done to his client aims to grab jurors by the heartstrings and have them nodding their heads in agreement, long before he begins to actually outline the evidence he says will support his case.
A fervent opening statement can cross the line into improper argument, and Willie Gary's speaking style isn't for everyone. But Gary is a master of mixing oratorical fire and facts, and in this case it set jurors along the road to awarding the largest single verdict ever in an Engle suit.