The first criminal trial of a former president of the United States turns toward opening statements this week. Criminal litigators neither win nor lose a trial based on their opening statements. But jurors will begin to form important impressions: not only of the evidence for or against the charges they will be called upon to decide, but of the attorneys themselves. 

To understand the different goals and priorities of a prosecutor giving an opening statement and those of a defense attorney, we need to start with the basic principles of a criminal trial. Every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until the evidence proves the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof rests solely with the prosecution, to the point that the defense is not required to produce any evidence at trial. 

Read the rest of Glenn Kirschner’s piece at MSNBC