The Trial of Bernhard Goetz: Excerpt from Barry Slotnick's
Opening Statement for the Defense
The following excerpt is included in The Trial of Bernhard Goetz (Aae Films, 1988).
Judge: Mr. Slotnick, would you like to make an opening statement?
S: I do desire, your honor, if I may.
Judge Crane, members of the bar, Bernhard Goetz, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, as you know by now, my name is Barry Slotnick, and I represent Bernhard Goetz.
I just sat and listened to the District Attorney’s summation [sic], which might indicate that Bernhard Goetz was a citizen Rambo. During the course of the summation, I scratched my head and wished I had a tape recorder. So that at the end of this case I could play you back that opening statement. So you would be totally insulted, as I was.
There were times when I sat back there, and I thought I was sitting at a testimonial dinner for these four thugs and hoodlams. But Mr. Waples forgot to tell you was that these four predators of society surrounded Bernhard Goetz on December 22nd, 1984 on the IRT subway with the intention to rob him, even admitting it. You’ll hear that in this case. You’ll hear police officers come in and give you statements taken from this hero, saying that the purpose of surrounding Bernhard Goetz on December 22nd, 1984 was to rob him.....
We might as well switch tables, because I’m going to prosecute those four and you are going to see that those four were committing a robbery, They are not on trial here, for some strange reason, which is not explainable, but Bernhard Goetz is.
But I’m going to try them for robbery, and I promise you that. And you’re going to convict them, and acquit him....
Again, I ask you to have an open mind, and the assurance and knowledge that at the end of this case you’re going to find Bernhard Goetz not guilty.
I thank you for your patience.