OPENING STATEMENTS vs. CLOSING ARGUMENTS
Both parties in a jury trial have the right to address the jury twice in proceedings, once before and then another after evidence has been presented, the opening statement and the closing argument respectively.
Opening StatementThis is mainly for the purpose of outlining facts. It gives the parties an opportunity to present, to the members of the jury, their own side of the dispute. In the opening statement, the parties introduce to the juries; the basics of the disagreement that brought about the case, and thereby lay out the blueprint on which the trial is expected to evolve in the long run. Here, parties will put together who their witnesses are, stating their relation to the parties and to each other, and what they are expected to say at the witness stand. Opening statements will usually be made up of statements such as, "Mr. James will testify under oath that he saw Ms. Tricia do X," or, "Evidence will show that the Defendant never did Y." Although opening statements should be as persuasive as possible, they are not meant to include arguments.
Closing ArgumentAfter an evidence has been presented, the parties have it in their rights to try and persuade the jury about its overall significance. A closing argument is an opportunity for the parties to try and persuade the jurors to make interpretations in their favor considerably, in relations to whatever has been brought up in evidence. Also, each party is free to use hypothetical analogies to try and argue why the jurors should make decisions in their favor; either by drawing attention to the credibility of the witness, or by pointing out how they believe the various pieces of the puzzle fits together into a compelling whole.
KEY DIFFERENCEThe all-important difference between an opening statement and closing arguments is: in their opening statements, parties are restricted to stating just what the evidence is, with statements such as; "witness A will testify that event X did occur". While, during the closing arguments, each party is allowed to argue the merits with statements such as; "We have heard all about Event X from the Witness' compelling testimony, and it is clear now who, in this case, should be held accountable."