As an expert in the legal field, I have often been asked why lawyers seem to object so frequently during trials. To the untrained eye, it may seem like a tactic to disrupt the flow of the proceedings. However, there is a much more important reason behind these objections - to preserve the right to appeal if the case does not go in their client's favor. But what exactly does it mean to object and when can a lawyer do so? Let me break it down for you.
The Purpose of ObjectionsThe primary reason an attorney files an objection is to ensure that the other party follows the rules of procedure. This can include opposing witness testimony or even questioning from the opposing counsel.
While lawyers are well-versed in the law, they are also human and can make mistakes. Therefore, objections serve as a safeguard to ensure that the proceedings are conducted fairly and within the boundaries of the law. For example, a lawyer cannot simply ask a witness: “Do you think the defendant robbed the house?” This is known as a leading question and is not allowed because it can influence the witness's answer. Similarly, a lawyer cannot ask a question in such a way as to compel the witness to give a specific answer. This is called the main question and applies to questions where the answer may already be known.
For instance, a lawyer couldn't ask directly: “You saw the defendant running out of the victim's house, right?” Instead, they should phrase it as: “Where was the defendant when you saw him running?” This ensures that the witness's testimony is their own and not influenced by leading questions.
The Role of Objections in CourtIn the United States legal system, an objection is a formal protest filed in court during a trial to reject witness testimony or other evidence that violates the rules of evidence or other procedural laws. Typically, an objection is made after the opposing party asks a question, but before the witness can respond, or when the opposing party is about to present evidence. The judge then decides whether to uphold or overturn the objection. If the objection is upheld, it means that the judge agrees with it and dismisses the question, testimony, or evidence. On the other hand, if the objection is overturned, it means that the judge disagrees with it and allows the question, testimony, or evidence to be presented. It is worth noting that an attorney may choose to rephrase a question that has been objected to, as long as the judge allows it.
This allows for a fair and thorough examination of witnesses and evidence.
When Can a Lawyer Object?An attorney must make an objection before there is an answer to the question. This is because frequent objections from lawyers do not alienate jurors, as some may believe. In fact, objections are often used to preserve the right to prevent certain testimony from being considered as evidence in support of or against a subsequent motion, such as a motion for summary judgment. Furthermore, objections can also be made during statements and evidence presentation to preserve the right to appeal against any judgments made. In these cases, a party or their lawyer will typically formulate objections to ask the court to ignore disallowed evidence or arguments and preserve those objections as a basis for appeals.
Continuing ObjectionsA continuing objection is when an attorney objects to a series of questions about a related point.
This type of objection can be made at the court's discretion to preserve an issue for appeal without distracting the investigator (either the jury or the judge) with an objection to each question. For example, if a lawyer believes that a line of questioning is irrelevant to the case, they may make a continuing objection. This allows them to object to multiple questions without disrupting the flow of the proceedings.
Preserving the Right to AppealOne of the main reasons why lawyers object so much is to preserve their right to appeal. If an attorney fails to object to a particular line of questioning or evidence, they may be found negligent and lose their right to appeal that decision. Therefore, it is crucial for lawyers to make objections when necessary.
The Art of ObjectionsAs you can see, objections are an essential part of the legal process.
They serve as a safeguard to ensure that trials are conducted fairly and within the boundaries of the law. While it may seem like lawyers object frequently, it is all part of the art of objections - a skill that every lawyer must master.