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Can I read from pre-written opening and closing statements. I know I am not supposed to but can judge disallow?

Van Nuys, CA |

This is a limited non-jury trial. Is it better to ask for court's permission to read or just present it without asking?

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Filed under: Lawsuits and disputes
Attorney answers 4


If your question is whether you can present your opening statement and closing argument by reading them off of a sheet of paper (instead of presenting them from memory) then the answer to your question is that there is no need to ask for the court's permission before reading from your "pre-written" notes. I hope this helps.


The better practice, in my opinion, is to timely submit a written trial brief.

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In a bench trial you are likely to find that the court feels strongly that s/he does not need either an opening statement or a closing argument.

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Reading a pre-written opening is fine. The closing will depend largely on the facts elicited at trial. The real issue is that by reading your opening may be less effective as you lose the connection with the judge. If possible you should prepare an opening brief for the court and have an outline of what you want to say in your opening statement. This way, you can engage with the judge and if you forget to make a specific point it is included in your written product.