Defense Attorneys’ Case Brief

People v. Iago

Steps for the Defense:

Before the trial:

1. Talk to the prosecuting attorneys and discover what Iago will be charged with.
2. Discover their list of witnesses and what they know.
3. Read the law and re-read the end of the play to help you think of a defense.
4. Write your opening statement.
5. Make up your witness list and decide what, if anything, you want to ask the prosecution’s witnesses (in cross-examination).
5. Write out what you are going to ask the witnesses and what they will say in return. Avoid asking “yes or no” questions.
6. Meet with the witnesses and practice--explain to them what you are going to ask them and what they are going to say.
7. Write your closing statement.
8. Practice your opening and closing statements.

During the trial:

1. Deliver your opening statement (after the prosecution).
2. Listen carefully to the prosecution’s questioning of their witnesses. Take notes. You’re listening for something that you could clarify in cross-examination that could undermine the prosecution’s case.
3. Cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses if you like.
4. Call your own witnesses.
5. Make your closing statement after the prosecution does.

The Law:

(a) First-Degree Murder: Iago’s actions were planned, and Iago knew about the impending murder of Desdemona & instigated it or helped bring it about in some way.

(b) Second-Degree Murder: Iago tried to get somebody else killed (Cassio?), and Desdemona was murdered as an unintended consequence.

(c) Voluntary Manslaughter: Iago said and did the things he did to bring about the murder of Desdemona in a jealous rage, but didn’t plan to say or do those things beforehand. A reasonable person would have to become as jealous or disturbed as Iago under the circumstances for this to be true.

The Law, continued:

California Criminal Law (from

401. Aiding and Abetting: Intended Crimes

To prove that the defendant is guilty of a crime based on aiding and abetting that crime, the People must prove that:

1. The perpetrator committed the crime;

2. The defendant knew that the perpetrator intended to commit the crime;

3. Before or during the commission of the crime, the defendant intended to aid and abet the perpetrator in committing the crime;


4. The defendant's words or conduct did in fact aid and abet the perpetrator's commission of the crime.

Someone aids and abets a crime if he or she knows of the perpetrator's unlawful purpose and he or she specifically intends to, and does in fact, aid, facilitate, promote, encourage, or instigate the perpetrator's commission of that crime.

Living Witnesses at the end of the play that can be called to testify:

Iago (though he may not be asked to testify against himself)

Other Possible Evidence you might want to introduce:

Letters in 5.2, lines 360-375; not about Desdemona, but you can introduce them if you like.