Objection! We have all seen movie or television show scenes in a courtroom where the lawyer stands up and yells objection. You may have even been in an actual courtroom during a trial and witnessed a lawyer objecting firsthand. The lawyer may have been objecting to a question posed by the other attorney or objecting to what the witness was saying. You may have been wondering why is the lawyer objecting and what is the purpose of objecting.
An objection is “[a] formal protest raised during a trial, deposition or other procedure indicating that the objecting attorney wishes the judge to disallow either the testimony of a given witness or other evidence that would violate the rules of evidence or other procedural law.” Put another way, an objection is simply indicating to the judge that the attorney does not want the question and/or testimony of the witness to be allowed into evidence. An attorney may have a variety of reasons as to why a piece of evidence may be offered or as to why a piece of evidence should not be allowed into evidence. At a fundamental level, the attorney is objecting to a question, offered testimony and/or evidence because he or she thinks such evidence is in violation of the evidentiary or procedural rules.
There are numerous types of objections that can be asserted by an attorney as the basis to preclude evidence/testimony. Some of the main objections are relevance, hearsay, leading, speculative, calls for a medical opinion and calls for a legal conclusion. In addition to the aforementioned, there are additional objections one can assert dependent on the circumstances. As one can suspect, the objection asserted is heavily dictated by the circumstances.
After the attorney asserts his or her objection, the judge will either overrule the objection or sustain the objection. If the judge overrules the objection, the judge will allow the question and/or evidence/testimony. On the other hand, if the judge sustains the objection, the judge will not allow the question and/or evidence/testimony. As such, the rulings on objections can potentially have large impact on the outcome of a trial.
As one can tell, objections are not just for show, as they may seem on a television show or movie. Objecting is a crucial part of the litigation process and trial. Going forward, you will have a baseline understanding of what an objection is and why the attorney is asserting one.