Friday, February 3, 2017, 02:47 PM
Posted by Administrator
In law school, EVIDENCE was the only fun course. You learned (if you found it interesting and paid attention) how to stop witnesses at hearings and trials from saying some stuff that wasn't helpful to your case. To accomplish this:
1) The witness had to be about to say something you had at least a semi-legitimate complaint that what they were about to say/what the other lawyer's question was prompting them to say and that would amount to inadmissible evidence.
2) You had to say "OBJECTION" in a loud voice intended to startle the witness into shutting up.....before the witness said what you didn't want him/her to say.
3) You had to state the legal grounds for the objection. Most judges don't like it much when the lawyers babble on and, on the other hand, like it even less when they object but don't say why....and say it in a legal-sounding way.

Here are some fun words and phrases:

-Objection! Hearsay!-----anything anyone said, ever...with exceptions (e.g. whatever a party to the case said is okay....statements that start with "Oh my G-d!" are probably admissible...a lot of written statement are admissible---records about money, for instance---but, a lot aren't).
-Objection! Irrelevant!....actually, there are two "irrelevant" objections: legally irrelevant is one and logically irrelevant is the other . Show-offs (me, for instance) like to be specific about which one our's is...because a lot of lawyers are clue-less about the difference. "Legally" means the question is meant to elicit something prejudicial (more prejudicial than probative)..."logically" means the question has nothing to do with the issues in the case. "Your honor...that calls for an answer that is logically irrelevant." And, the crowd thinks "That lawyer is, at the least, awake."
-Objection! Improper predicate! You want to put those records into evidence, do you? Well, you need a records custodian and you need to ask him or her the right questions and, if the records contain someone's opinion (e.g. medical records), you likely need (what we used to call) an expert to get that opinion in.
-Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence! Q: When Mr. Smith signed the contract, was he drunk? You better have some evidence, first, that Mr. Smith signed the contract or that stuff about his signing the contract drunk isn't coming in.
-Objection! Calls for a legal conclusion! I don't know if this is a legitimate objection or not, but, it's what I use when the other lawyer has my client on the witness stand and is asking hem something about settling the case "What will you take?" or anything that sounds legal-ish that I don't want my client to be asked, for instance, "Weren't you supposed to provide those tax returns to us?"
-Objection! Calls for an improper opinion! Here, you are asking for someone's opinion who has not been qualified to give their opinion. What we used to do is have the court declare someone to be an "expert" and then they could give their opinion....they weren't limited to being a fact witness...they could say what they thought and not just what they saw/heard/smelled. We stopped with the "expert" thing because, the idea was, jurors might believe that by declaring a witness an "expert", the court was endorsing their testimony. These days, come up with some questions designed to show that the witnesses opinion is based on education, experience, expertise and, when the other lawyer objects that the court didn't declare the witness to be an expert, glare at the other lawyer like he/she is a fool 'cause everyone knows we don't do that anymore. Note: All drivers are qualified to give their opinion about how fast a car they observed was going........not just the cops.
-Objection! Calls for an opinion on the ultimate issue! Even "experts" can't testify that someone charged with a crime is guilty or that the car accident was solely the other guy's fault. "Whose fault was the accident?" .......Objection!

Okay, there are lots of other objections that aren't on the top of my head, right now. But, toss me into a trial and they'll pop in. Why? Because it is fun to say "OBJECTION!" and have the whole courtroom stop and wait for you to use some legal word. And for judges? They love to say things like "sustained" and "overruled". Trials and hearings are boring......but this stuff keeps everyone awake.

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