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COMMON TRIAL OBJECTIONS

An objection is a verbal statement of opposition against something said because the objecting party believes that the question or answer is improper or illegal. The judge can sustain or overrule an objection. “Objection sustained” means the judge agrees with the objecting party. “Objection overruled” means the judge does not agree with the objecting party. The following are examples of the most common objections heard in court:

"Objection, Your Honor, ambiguous."

A question is vague or ambiguous if:

  • It may be misunderstood by the witness. Example: Did you go to the defendant’s house? (Attorney does not specify the date or time he is referring to)

"Objection, Your Honor, argumentative."

A question is argumentative if:

It attempts to contradict a witness rather than eliciting new information. Example:

“But didn’t you just say on direct that…?”

"Objection, Your Honor, asked and answered."

A question has been asked and answered if:

  • The witness has already answered a substantially similar question asked by the same

attorney on the same subject matter.

"Objection, Your Honor, assumes facts not in evidence."

A question assumes facts not in evidence if:

  • It presumes unproved facts to be true. Example: "When did you stop beating your wife?" This question assumes that the person has beaten his wife.

"Objection, Your Honor, the question is compound."

A question is compound if:

  • It joins two or more questions ordinarily joined with the word "or" or the word "and."

Example: “Tell us where you were at that time and if anything attracted your attention.”

"Objection, Your Honor, hearsay."

An statement is hearsay if:

  • It is made by someone other than the witness who is testifying. There are many exceptions to the hearsay rule. Example: “The defendant told Officer Hernandez…”

“Objection, Your Honor, relevance.

A question is irrelevant if:

  • It invites or causes the witness to give evidence not related to the facts of the case at hand. Example: Are you a legal resident of the United States?

"Objection, Your Honor, leading."

A question is leading if:

  • It is asked in such a way as to suggest the answer. Example: Did you punch the victim in the eye?

"Objection, Your Honor, misstates the evidence."

A question misstates the evidence if:

  • It misstates or misquotes the testimony of a witness or any other evidence produced at a hearing or at a trial. Example: “When the defendant got home at 6 pm…” (Earlier the witness stated the defendant got home at 5 pm)

“Objection, Your Honor, the witness is giving a narrative”.

A witness is giving a narrative if:

She narrates a series of occurrences rather than responding point by point to specific questions. Example: What happened when you got home that evening?” “Well, first he started to accuse me of seeing another man and I told him I wasn’t and then he called me a bitch and I grabbed his arm and then…”

"Objection, Your Honor, calls for speculation."

A question calls for speculation if:

  • It invites or causes the witness to speculate or guess about a situation. Example: Do you think the defendant was drunk?

“Objection, Your Honor, beyond the scope.”

A question is beyond the scope if:

It enters into areas of inquiry not covered in the direct examination of a witness. Example: Has the defendant ever abused you before?(Direct examination only covered the incident for which the defendant is currently charged).

“Objection, Your Honor, lack of foundation.”

A question lacks foundation if:

It inquires into matters not yet established through testimony. Example: Regarding a Spanish-speaking defendant, an officer who is testifying says, “The defendant told me…” when it has not yet been established that the officer speaks Spanish.

“Objection, Your Honor, non-responsive.”

An answer is non-responsive if:

It fails to address the question posed. Example: “What happened when you got home that night?” “Well, he always gets drunk and once he even hit me.”