Legal Seagull

September 27, 2019

5 Common Objections in Court You Should Master

You've no doubt seen a few sensationalized, Hollywood-style courtroom objections on television — or even witnessed a few trial objections in a real lawsuit. And you're wondering if you'll be able to handle common objections in court when you face your opponent.

Why You Should Learn Common Objections in Court

Courtroom objections are an essential component of trial. Lack of experience with courtroom objections could destroy your chances of winning your case. You don't want to give your opponent in court free rein to introduce improper evidence (or ask inappropriate questions of witnesses).

Plus, if you want introduce valid evidence or testimony — and your opponent keeps objecting because you don't know how to handle common objections in court — you'll never have the chance to introduce important evidence supporting your version of the facts to the judge or jury.

Mastering common objections in court is as much a skill as it is an art. This means that you CAN learn how to:

  • Identify when you should object to testimony from a witness and when you should object to inappropriate questioning by the opposing attorney;
  • Properly address the judge and state your objections in a clear, concise and accurate way;
  • Refocus your line of questioning when the judge sustains an objection from the opposing attorney so you can get your testimony or evidence seen and considered by the jury.

In this article, we'll provide a list of objections that you should try to master before your trial date. And if your trial is tomorrow — you might want to pull an all-nighter.

5 Types of Objections You’ll Likely Encounter in Court

There is a high probability that you will encounter these five common evidentiary objections in court. Reading through this list of objections will help you learn how and when to object — and how to handle objections by the opposing attorney.

  • You'll be able to identify if your opponent is doing something objectionable — so you can make a timely objection; and
  • You will be able to form a strategy to recover from the objections of the opposing attorney (sustained by the judge) relating to these five common objections;
  • We also provide you with objections in court examples so you can think through the process.
  • Objection: Argumentative

When you hear the words, "Objection! Argumentative," you might think it means the attorney is accusing you of arguing. But that's likely not the case.

Argumentative is a legal term that means something similar to "drawing conclusions." For the sake of simplicity, we'll refer to them as an argumentative objection.

That means if you hear an argumentative objection, the questioner (attorney or self-represented party) is likely trying to offer a conclusion of what the evidence means rather than simply asking for the facts of what actually happened.

It is the jury's responsibility to decide whether to believe or find any testimony or evidence credible or persuasive. During the case-in-chief (includes questioning of witnesses), the witnesses, attorneys, self-represented parties, defendants, and plaintiffs are only allowed to recite the facts, not draw conclusions about the facts (until closing arguments) . To do so is argumentative.

Generally, a party in a lawsuit is only allowed to "argue" the facts of the case (i.e., draw conclusions) in closing arguments. Learn about trial basics here .

Argumentative objections are often made when the questions directed to the witness attempt to influence the witness' testimony by inserting the attorney's (or self-represented party's) interpretation of the evidence into the question.

Sample Argumentative Objection

Here is an example of an argumentative objection to help you see how it might work in a courtroom:

Attorney: How often did you get your brakes checked prior to the accident?

Witness: Twice a week.

Attorney: You expect this jury to believe that you got under your car, twice a week, every week, to check your brakes?

Self-represented Party: Objection! Argumentative.

Judge: Sustained.

You'll notice the words: "You expect this jury to believe…." Those words tip you off that the question is argumentative (and objectionable) because the attorney is stating what the jury should be expected to believe about something. Plus, the attorney takes the testimony beyond what the witness actually said.

The witness never said he got under the car twice a week — only that someone checked the brakes twice a week.

If you'd like additional tips on how to identify questions that may be objectionable as argumentative, you can check out Trial Objections 101: Making and Responding to Objections .

  • Objection: Calls for Speculation

Speculation is a legal basis for objecting to witness testimony on grounds similar to the argumentative objection — because the evidence is not considered reliable or factual. A witness' testimony is limited to their personal knowledge of events (estimating is allowed, but most opinions are not). Speculating is even worse. It's akin to guessing — and it's not permitted.

We certainly wouldn't want a jury to decide a case based upon someone's guess. That's a primary reason we have rules of evidence: to establish a fair trial that is based on facts , not speculation. Learn more about rules of evidence (the backbone of evidentiary objections).

Lay witnesses (i.e., non-experts) may testify as to their personal knowledge in a case. But generally, they are not permitted to testify as to matters outside their first-hand knowledge.

A common reason for objections that call for speculation (or speculation objections) in court is when a party asks a witness to interpret someone else’s state of mind. No one can read another's mind.

Sample Objection for Speculation #1

Here is a specific example of a speculation objection so you can see how it might occur in a court of law:

Witness: A man with a glorious ponytail came in and bought a newspaper with his credit card.

Attorney: Why did the man use his credit card instead of paying with cash?

Self-Represented Party: Objection. Calls for speculation.

Attorney: Why did the man have a ponytail?

Self-Represented Party: Objection, calls for speculation — and irrelevant.

Judge: Sustained. Counsel, move on.

Sometimes courtroom objections based on speculation can be overcome by rewording a question, particularly in state of mind conclusions. A witness may not testify to a state of mind, but they can testify to what they saw.

Sample Objection for Speculation #2

Here is a second example of a speculation objection where the party is able to reword a question to get the desired testimony.

Self-Represented Party: Was the man with the ponytail thinking about killing the cashier for not refunding his money?

Attorney: Objection! Calls for speculation.

Self-Represented Party: What did the man with the ponytail do when the cashier did not refund his money for the newspaper?

Witness: His whole body tensed up, he slammed his fist on the counter, and raised his voice saying, "I'm not going to forget your face."

  • Assumes Facts Not in Evidence Objections

Evidentiary objections such as assumes facts not in evidence are closely related to foundation objections (which we will discuss in number 4).

If a question references a fact that has not yet been presented or accepted as evidence, it can be objected to on that basis — because it assumes a fact that has not been established.

Sample Assumes Facts Not in Evidence Objection

Attorney: Where were you at the time of the accident?

Witness: I was standing at the bus stop right near the southeast corner of the intersection of Main Street and 7th Avenue.

Attorney: What did the driver of the black van throw out of the window?

Self-Represented Party: Objection. The question assumes facts not in evidence. And it’s a leading question.

Here, there was no testimony prior to this question that: (1) there was a black van, (2) the witness could see the driver, or that (3) the witness saw the driver throwing something out of the window.

When you are questioning a witness and your opponent objects to your question because it assumes facts not in evidence, it is usually a simple problem to fix.

We thoroughly discuss the solution in Trial Objections 101: Making and Responding to Objections .

Plus, below, we've provided an example of one way to get back on track. See example two of foundation objections (objections that are made because a question lacks foundation).

  • Foundation Objections

As mentioned above, foundation objections are related to assumes facts not in evidence objections.

A common lack of foundation objection occurs when a party asks a question, but has not shown the court why the witness is qualified to answer the question. Basic foundations that need to be established before the question is permissible might include personal knowledge and familiarity with the topic.

Lack of foundation objections can occur when the examining attorney is going too fast and not asking preliminary questions to demonstrate the witness’ familiarity with the facts.

Example #1 of Foundation Objections

Here is a sample foundation objection dialogue that might happen at trial:

Attorney: Are you a tennis player?

Witness: Yes.

Attorney: What percentage of a tennis ball is made of rubber?

Self-Represented Party: Objection. Lacks foundation.

In this lack of foundation example, there was no prior testimony establishing that (1) rubber is used in the production of tennis balls; or (2) that the witness has any knowledge regarding the manufacturing or composition of tennis balls.

Why would he, based on what you have just read? All we know is that the witness hits tennis balls — not manufactures them.

The attorney had not yet sufficiently laid a foundation for the question (in other words, she was going too fast in her line of questions).

Example #2 of Foundation Objections

Now, let’s assume that the attorney resumes her line of questioning to lay a proper foundation.

Attorney: Do you know what tennis balls are made of?

Attorney: How do you know that?

Witness: Before retiring in April, I worked as a floor supervisor at a tennis ball factory for 20 years.

Attorney: As part of your duties as a floor supervisor, were you involved in supervising the manufacture of tennis balls?

Attorney: Did you become familiar with the materials used to manufacture tennis balls?

Attorney: What materials are used to manufacture tennis balls?

Witness: Mainly rubber, with some wool.

Witness: I’d say about 85-90%.

See how she slowed down. Asked the right questions. And laid the legal foundation to get the testimony she needed in her case.

When your opponent objects for lack of foundation, DO NOT PANIC!

Just back up and ask the necessary foundational questions.

  • Objection Non-Responsive

The non-responsive objection is a common objection used in court when a witness is not responding properly to questions asked under oath. Using this evidentiary objection is crucial when you have a witness who skirts around your question, rambles on and on, or gives testimony that goes beyond the scope of what you asked them.

It's critical to make these kinds of courtroom objections quickly because the witness may inadvertently (or intentionally) say something that is harmful to your case. Thankfully, with a little skill, you can have harmful testimony stricken from the record — you can watch an example in Trial Objections 101 .

Sample Non-Responsive Objection

Here is an example of a non-responsive objection:

Attorney: In what year did you meet Bozo?

Witness: We’ve known each other since we were students at clown school. A lot of people don’t know that Bozo was quite the ladies’ man . . . anyway, when he got back from his second tour in Afghanistan, after his divorce, I . . .

Self-Represented Party: Objection. Non-responsive.

Judge: Sustained. Mr. Pennywise, please answer the question.

Witness: Huh? What was the question?

Attorney: How long have you known Bozo?

Witness: 12 years . . . I’ve known him since the very day he won his third-straight hog-wrestling contest, and I’m telling you, no way Bozo is guilty of any of these charges . . .

Non-responsive witnesses can be a source of frustration for self-represented parties as well as seasoned attorneys. There are ways to counteract these kinds of witnesses which we discuss in Trial Objections 101 .

That concludes five common objections in court, but there are many more evidentiary objections you'll want to study if you want to be your (or your client's) best advocate in court so you can increase the chances of getting the outcome you desire at trial.

Do You Know the Other 13 Common Objections in Court?

Knowledge of five common objections is a great start.

But if you don't master (or at least begin to master) all of the common courtroom objections, you will likely have difficulty proving your claims or defenses in court.

Without the ability to properly make (and respond to) objections at trial — you may not have the chance to present significant facts and testimony to the judge and jury. Or, the opposing party may destroy your case by taking advantage of your lack of practical objection skills.

If you'd like to learn about 13 additional common courtroom objections that you will likely face at trial (and how to handle them), like: hearsay, improper character evidence, unfair prejudice, leading questions, badgering the witness, and more — check out the video litigation tutorial — Trial Objections 101: Making and Responding to Objections .

It's clear. Concise. Easy to understand. And includes HD video simulations of a self-represented party who stands before the judge making and responding to objections when necessary.

Nothing cements the basics of making solid objections in court like seeing the objection process in action. You'll be growing in confidence as you internalize objection skills and make them your own.

In the tutorial, you'll learn much more than how to make objections in court. The courtroom objections course will provide the confidence you need to identify objectionable testimony and other evidence, the insights to know when to object, and ways to handle the objections of the opposing attorney.

You can read more about Trial Objections 101 here .

We hope you will master common trial objections for your day in court.

Learn more by following Legal Seagull on  Facebook ,  Twitter , and subscribe to the  YouTube channel!

Solomon Obeng January 23, 2020

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17 Fundamental Mock Trial Objections and How to Make Them

Is your team super excited about standing up and saying “Objection!” in a courtroom…but not really sure when they can do that? Or, are they dreading objections and terrified of getting one from opposing counsel?

I’m going to walk you through the kinds of objection your team can make, how to make and defend them, and what to do after the judge rules on an objection.

I. Available Objections Are Listed in the Rules of Evidence

Your mock trial case packet should include Rules of Evidence. Most of these rules are likely based on the same ones that apply in courts in your state.

Your witnesses’ testimony must follow the Rules of Evidence. If it doesn’t, opposing counsel can object, and the testimony is not admitted in evidence, which means that the judge can’t consider it when deciding the case.

The questions your team lawyers ask the witnesses must also follow the Rules of Evidence. If they don’t, and if opposing counsel objects, the witness doesn’t have to answer the question.

The objections discussed here are based on the Simplified Rules of Evidence applicable in California high school mock trial (Constitutional Rights Foundation).  Although they’re likely very similar to the ones in your case packet, be sure to check for any differences.

There are two broad categories of mock trial objections: (1) objections to the form of the question and (2) objections to testimony.

A.  Objections to the Form of Questions

Questions have to be asked in a proper form or way. The following 6 objections can be made to the way a question is asked.

1. Vague and Ambiguous

An attorney can object to a question if it cannot be understood.

Often, questions are vague because they contain an unclear reference.  For example, a question might use a pronoun, such as “he”, “she”, “it.”

Here’s an example: Did you see what happened?

In this example, it’s unclear what the attorney means by “what happened” because there’s no context given. A better question would be, “Did you see what happened on Main Street on the evening of July 31?”

Sample Objection:

  • “Objection. The question is vague and ambiguous.”

On direct examination , attorneys cannot ask a question that suggests the answer.  (In contrast, during cross examination, all questions should be leading questions.)

Most leading questions are really statements, followed by a question that asks the witness to confirm the statement.  Look out for questions that contain phrases like “isn’t it true”, “correct”, or “did/didn’t you”.

For example: Ms. Capulet, you met Mr. Montague at the masquerade ball, didn’t you?

The way this question is phrased, suggests that the correct answer is “yes.”  When an attorney is examining their own witness, they cannot suggest to them the answer to the question.

Sample Objections:

  • “Objection. “
  • “Objection; counsel is leading the witness.”

3. Compound

Attorneys must ask one question at a time. A compound question is really two or more questions.

An example of a compound question is: Officer O’Reilly, how did Mr. Davis respond and react when you caught him with the stolen laptop in his backpack?

This is really two questions: (1) How did Davis respond? and (2) How did Davis react?

Pay careful attention to questions that have an “and” or an “or” in them.  They may be compound.

  • “Objection. The question is compound.”

4. Argumentative

Attorney questions are supposed to be questions.  Attorneys can’t argue their case during their examinations of witnesses.

An example of an argumentative question is: Wasn’t it careless to leave such dangerous item in such a public, easily accessible location?

The example suggests that someone was careless because they left something dangerous laying around.  This is an idea the attorney wants the judge to agree with, so it’s an argument, not a question to a witness.

To spot an argumentative question, listen for adjectives.  In the example, you have “careless”, “dangerous, “public,” and “easily accessible.”  These adjectives characterize people and things. Here, someone is being called “careless” and some item “dangerous”.

Judges might be more lenient about allowing lawyers to ask the defendant argumentative questions.   They might also allow argumentative questions to expert witnesses or law enforcement officers.  These witnesses testify in court frequently, so judges sometimes expect them to be able to stand up for themselves when asked argumentative questions.

  • “Objection. The question is argumentative.”

5. Asked and Answered

Attorneys can ask a witness a question only once.  If an attorney has asked a question and  the witness gave an answer, the attorney cannot ask it again.

It doesn’t matter if the attorney loved the witness’s answer.  They can’t ask it again to emphasize the point.  It also doesn’t matter if the attorney hated the witness’s answer.  They can’t ask the same question again and hope for a better response.

  • “Objection. Asked and answered.”

6. Outside Scope of Cross Examination

This is an objection only made during redirect examination, which is limited to issues raised during the cross examination.

A redirect examination question is objectionable when it is not related to an issue raised during the cross examination.

  • “Objection. This matter is beyond the scope of cross examination.”

B. Objections to Testimony

With the following 11 mock trial objections, attorneys can object to improper testimony that a witness gives. These objections can also be used if opposing counsel’s question asks the witness to give improper testimony.

7. Non-Responsive Witness

This objection can be made when the witness does not provide an answer to their question.

  • “Objection, Your Honor. The witness’s testimony is non-responsive.”

8. Relevance

Evidence must be relevant to be admitted.  Witnesses can only testify to relevant matters.

There is a low threshold for relevance.  Relevant evidence is evidence that has an impact on an important fact in the case. If evidence shows that an important fact is more (or less) likely to be true, then the evidence is relevant.

Offer of Proof

If opposing counsel makes a relevance objection to evidence your attorney wants to introduce, your attorney should ask the judge, “Your Honor, may I make an offer of proof?”  This is courtroom-speak for “Let me explain why this is relevant.”  Assuming the judge allows it, your attorney would then explain what they expect the witness to say and how it is relevant (how it relates to a fact that’s important for the judge’s verdict).

  • “Objection; relevance.”
  • “Objection. The witness is testifying to irrelevant matter.”

9. More Prejudicial Than Probative

An attorney can object to evidence if it is substantially more prejudicial than probative.  For evidence to meet this standard, the objecting attorney must show that the evidence is so harmful that the harm substantially  outweighs any relevance the evidence has.

It’s not enough that an attorney doesn’t like it or that it’s bad for their case.  There must be a  substantial danger  that the evidence will lead to undue prejudice, confusion of the issues, a waste of time, or misleading the judge.

It’s a pretty high standard to meet because generally, if evidence is relevant, it should be admitted so that the judge can be fully informed when deciding the defendant’s guilt.   So in order for relevant evidence to be excluded, it needs to be really harmful.  Here’s a visual to illustrate this point:

  • “Objection. The question seeks testimony that is substantially more prejudicial than probative.”
  • “Objection. This evidence’s probative value is substantially outweighed by its risk of undue prejudice.”

10. Narrative

A narrative is when the witness talks non-stop, without interruption.  The witness must answer the attorney’s question and only the attorney’s question.  They can’t just get on the stand and recite their witness statement.

For example, a prosecutor asking the victim to “describe what happened” on the day of the crime, calls for a narrative.  The victim probably can’t discuss all of the events that occurred on the day they were victimized, without talking uninterrupted for a long time.

  • “Objection. Calls for a narrative.” (If you’re objecting to the question.)
  • “Objection. The witness has lapsed into a narrative.”

11. Foundation

A witness needs to have testified to enough background facts to show they are able to provide the testimony they are giving.

Consider this example:

Q: Good evening, Ms. Frazer.  Please introduce yourself to the Court.

A:  My name is Kai Frazer.  I transferred to Beachside High School last year, and I’m a senior this year.

Q: Do you know Shay Miller?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: How do you know her?

A:  She goes to Beachside too, and we became friends on my first day at this school.

Q:  How would you describe Ms. Miller’s relationship with her grandparents?

Counsel might object to this question as lacking foundation because Kai has not testified that she knows anything about Shay relationship with her grandparents, or anything about Shay’s family life.

  • “Objection. Lacks foundation.”
  • “Objection. The question lacks foundation.”
  • “Objection. There’s no foundation for this testimony.”

12.  Personal Knowledge / Speculation

A witness must have personal knowledge of the things they testify to.  They can’t speculate, and attorneys can’t ask them to.

Usually, witnesses speculate when they testify about another person’s motivation or thoughts.  For example, they might testify about: (1) why another person did/said something; (2) how another person felt; and (3) what another person thought.

  • “Objection. The question calls for speculation.”
  • “Objection. The witness lacks personal knowledge to provide this testimony.”

13. Unfair Extrapolation / Creation of Material Fact

This is an objection that exists only in the mock trial world.  The reason for this is that in mock trial, all of the allowable facts and evidence are contained in the case packet.  And of course, that’s not how it works in a real-life trial.

Check your Rules of Evidence to confirm what your witness can testify to.  For example, in California high school mock trial, witnesses can only testify to their “official record”, which consists of: (1) the witness’s statement; (2) the Fact Situation; and (3) any exhibits relevant to the witness’s testimony.

Mock trial witnesses cannot testify to material  facts that are not in the case packet.  A fact is material if it makes a difference on the outcome of the case.

It is critical for attorneys to know their witnesses’ statements. It’s the only way to catch testimony that is outside of the allowable facts.

It is also important to know the difference between a material fact and a nonmaterial fact. Remember, this mock trial objection applies only when the witness testifies to a material  fact that’s not in the case packet.

Example Fact Scenario:  Evil Witch is on trial for giving Snow White a poisoned apple on the afternoon of December 1.  The evidence is that on the morning of the crime, Ms. Witch consulted with her magic mirror, then spent about half an hour in the forest.

During her direct examination, she testifies as follows:

Q: Ms. Witch, what did you do the morning of December 1?

A: I woke up, spoke with my magic mirror, and then wandered in the forest for about a half-hour.

Q: Did you do anything in particular while you were in the forest?

A: I am training for a 5K race, so I jogged about three miles.

There’s no unfair extrapolation here.  Whether Ms. Witch is training for a 5K or whether she jogged for about three miles during her half-hour jaunt into the forest, doesn’t make it more or less likely that she gave Snow White the poisoned apple.

Now, consider these questions during Ms. Witch’s cross examination :

Q: Ms. Witch, isn’t it true that you went for a three-mile jog in the forest on the morning of December 1?

A: Yes, it is.

Q: You were hungry after that jog, weren’t you?

A:  Yes, I suppose I was.

Q:  You were so hungry, in fact, that you went and picked some apples, isn’t that right?

It still doesn’t matter whether Ms. Witch went for a three-mile jog, and it really doesn’t matter that she might have been hungry after it.  But, whether she picked apples is important.  If she had apples on December 1, the chances that she gave a poisoned apple to Snow White are greater than they would be without evidence that she had apples in her possession the morning Ms. White was poisoned.

  • “Objection. The question calls for an unfair extrapolation.”
  • “Objection. The witness has testified to an unfair extrapolation.”

14. Improper Lay Witness Opinion

Generally, lay witnesses (non-expert witnesses) can only testify about things they have personal knowledge about.

Lay witnesses can provide some opinions, but only opinions that any regular person could provide.  A witness can give an opinion if it is based on things they observe with their senses, AND if the opinion is relevant to understanding the witness’s testimony.

Here’s an example of a lay witness opinion:

Q: Mr. Dwarf, can you describe the condition in which you found Ms. White when you returned to the cottage?

A: She was lying still and did not respond when I shook her arm and yelled out her name.  She appeared to be dead.

This is a proper lay witness opinion.  A lay person can tell the difference between someone who looks dead and someone who looks alive.  This opinion is also based on the witness’s observations – Ms. White lying still and her lack of a response to stimuli.  Also, the opinion is relevant to understanding Mr. Dwarf’s testimony. His opinion that Ms. White was dead helps explain what he did after finding Ms. White in this condition.

If a lay witness tries to offer testimony that requires special knowledge, training, etc., the testimony is objectionable.

Let’s continue the example above:

Q: Mr. Dwarf, what was the cause of Ms. White’s death?

A: She had been poisoned by an apple.

This is objectionable. Determining a cause of death requires special training in medicine or professional experience performing autopsies. There’s no evidence Mr. Dwarf has that special training or experience. Mr. Dwarf can’t determine, based on what he saw and heard, that Ms. White’s death was caused by a poisoned apple and not by say, a toxic plant in the forest or carbon monoxide poisoning in the cottage.

  • “Objection. Calls for improper lay witness opinion.”
  • “Objection. The witness has provided an improper opinion.”

15.  Improper Expert Opinion

Unlike lay witnesses, expert witnesses have special knowledge, education, training, experience, or skill.  They can testify to their opinions about matters even if they don’t have personal knowledge of them.

Expert opinion is admissible if it is based on the expert’s special skill, experience, etc., AND if the opinion would assist the judge in resolving an issue relevant to the case. There’s one limitation on this, though: An expert witness may not express an opinion on whether the defendant had the mental state required for the criminal offense at issue.

Also, expert witnesses have to be qualified to give an expert opinion.  This means that if you’re offering an expert opinion, you must show that the witness has special skill, knowledge, etc. that is helpful to the judge in making a decision on the case.  In California mock trial, the parties stipulate that each expert witness is a qualified expert witness, so expert qualification is not an issue.

Here’s an example:

Q: Please introduce yourself to the Court.

A: I’m Doctor Rider.  I’ve lived near the forest for 25 years, and I go horseback riding through the woods every morning. I found Snow White’s body during my ride one morning last year.

Q: Since you go by “Doctor,” is it true that you are a licensed medical doctor?

A: Oh, no. I meet a lot of people on my rides through the forest, and people started coming to talk to me when they’re upset. I’ve always offered them a cup of hot tea.  About 20 years ago, I started experimenting with the herbs in the forest and making different kinds of teas.  I logged all of my experiments and found that different herbal blends help people in different ways.

Q:  Doctor Rider, based on your expertise, what was the cause of Snow White’s death?

A:  In my opinion, it was the poisoned apple she ate.

Doctor Rider may be an expert in herbal teas, but not in medical examinations or performing autopsies. He has no education, training, or experience in identifying causes of death.  Because the opinion he expressed (eating a poisoned apple caused death) has nothing to do with his claimed area of expertise (herbal teas), the opinion is improper and lacking in foundation.

  • “Objection. Improper opinion.”
  • “Objection. There is no foundation for the witness’s opinion.”

16. Character Evidence

Character evidence is evidence of someone’s personal trait (honesty, selfishness, violence).  It comes in three forms :

  • Opinion evidence: This is when a testifying witness gives their opinion about someone else. Example: “I think Reggie is a liar.”
  • Reputation evidence: The witness on the stand testifies to someone’s reputation. Example “Everyone knows Reggie is a liar.”
  • Evidence of prior conduct: The witness testifies about an action someone previously took.  Example: “Reggie spread a false rumor about me when we were in the eighth grade.”

Character evidence cannot be used to prove that the person acted “in accordance” with that character trait on a particular occasion.

Diane (defendant) is being prosecuted for attempted murder.  The prosecution alleges that Diane repeatedly pushed and shoved Vicky (victim), until Vicky fell down a flight of stairs. Diane’s defense is that Vicky was actually pushed by Kelly, who was wearing a jacket she had borrowed from Diane. Diane offers evidence that Kelly got in a fight last year.

This is improper. Diane cannot use Kelly’s prior act of violence (the fight last year) to show that Kelly committed the act of violence now at issue (pushing Vicky).

There are three exceptions  to the rule against using character evidence.

  • For example, Diane can introduce evidence that last semester, instead of getting in a fight with someone who had provoked her, she talked to the person and reached a peaceful resolution.
  • Victim’s Character: The defense can offer evidence of the victim’s character to prove that the victim acted in accordance with that character trait on a particular occasion.
  • Witness’s Character: Either the prosecution or defense can introduce evidence of a witness’s dishonesty.  If this happens, the opposing party can then offer evidence of that witness’s honesty.
  • “Objection. The question calls for inadmissible character evidence.”
  • “Objection. The witness has provided improper character testimony.”

17. Hearsay

The hearsay rule is: Evidence of out-of-court statements cannot be offered for the truth of the matter….unless an exception applies.

There are two steps to a hearsay analysis.

First: Determine whether there is a hearsay statement to begin with.

Hearsay is a statement made out of court, offered for the truth of the matter.

The first part of this – a statement made out of court – is pretty straightforward.  This means anything that someone said or wrote outside of the courtroom.  The reason for the hearsay rule is to make sure that evidence is reliable.  If someone said or wrote something outside of the courtroom, the statement is not as credible as it would be if they were in court, under oath and subject to cross examination.

The trickier, and often overlooked, part of the hearsay rule is that the out-of-court statement being must used in court to prove the matter asserted .  This means that the out of court statement is being used to prove the statement itself.

Second: If there is a hearsay statement, consider whether there is an applicable hearsay exception.

There are probably about a dozen hearsay exceptions in your Rules of Evidence.  Perhaps the most commonly used exception is an admission by a party-opponent.  The prosecution can rely on this exception to offer evidence of anything the defendant said out of court.

  • “Objection. Calls for hearsay.”
  • “Objection. The witness has testified to hearsay.”

II.  How To Make and Argue a Mock Trial Objection

1.  stand up before making a objection..

Attorneys shouldn’t hover over their chair while they decide whether they are going to object or not.  They should decide whether to object, and if they decide to object, get on your feet.  And they shouldn’t hesitate to interrupt opposing counsel’s question or the witness’s testimony.

2.  Say “Objection” and Identify the Objection.

Once they’re on your feet, an attorney should simply say “Objection”, followed by the ground for your objection.  For example, “Objection. Leading.”  That’s all an attorney need to say, unless the judge invites them to argue.

3.  Give a Short, Clear Argument for the Objection, if the Judge Indicates it’s OK to Do So.

Sometimes, the judge will ask an attorney to explain their objection or look at the attorney as if they expect you to say something.  If this happens, an attorney should go ahead and explain why the judge should sustain or overrule the objection.

Provide a succinct, 1- or 2-sentence argument.

4.  Communicate in a Professional Manner.

There are two phrases that come in handy when arguing mock trial objections:

  • May I be heard , Your Honor?” : This is how attorneys tell the judge they have something to say and don’t want the judge to rule on the objection just yet.
  • “ Submitted .” : An attorney says this when they’ve said everything they need to say, and they are ready for the judge to make a decision on the objection.

III.  The Judge’s Ruling on the Objection and How to Respond to It

After an objection is made and after the attorneys have had a chance to argue (if the judge allows it), the judge will rule on the objection.  The judge will either sustain the objection or overrule it.

Sustained vs. Overruled

When the judge sustains an objection, this means that the judge agrees with the objection.  If the objection is to a question, the witness cannot answer the question.  The questioning attorney must then ask another question (or conclude their examination of the witness).

If the objection is to an answer the witness gives on the stand, the witness cannot say any more on the objectionable issue.  The attorney who made the objection should move to strike  the testimony.  (More on that below.)

When a judge overrules an objection, it means that the attorney making the objection loses.  The evidence at issue can be admitted.

If the objection was made to a question, the witness can answer the question.  If the objection was made to testimony, the witness can continue testifying.

What To Do After the Judge Sustains Your Team’s Objection

If your team objected to opposing counsel’s question, and the judge sustains the objection, the witness cannot answer the question. Opposing counsel has to ask another question.

Your Team Should Move to Strike if the Judge Sustains its Objection to Testimony

If your team objected to testimony that a witness gave, and the judge sustained the objection, your team should move to strike the witness’s improper testimony.

This means your team asks the judge to exclude the improper testimony from evidence. When the judge strikes improper testimony from the record, they don’t consider it when deciding the verdict. The stricken testimony also can’t be used by either party. Your team should just pretend the witness never said whatever was stricken, and be sure not to use it in your closing argument.

What To Do If the Judge Overrules Your Team’s Objection

If the judge overrules your team’s objection, the attorney who made the objection simply sits back down and moves on.  They will be graceful about this.  They won’t roll your eyes or throw up their hands in frustration.

I’ve seen some mock trial attorneys say “Thank you, Your Honor”, as if they are thanking the judge for overruling their objection.  This strikes me as weird and insincere.  It also makes me doubt for a minute that the attorney understands that “overruled” means that they lost.

If the judge listened very patiently to an argument your team made, a response such as “understood” or “yes, Your Honor” might be appropriate.  But, otherwise, there’s really no need to say anything after a judge rules on an objection.

Attorneys score points by understanding the rules of evidence and making and arguing mock trial objections convincingly.  There really is no better way to master objections than to keep practicing.

I’ve prepared a visual guide to help you keep in mind the main points we’ve discussed here. Consider printing it out and keeping it on counsel table as a reference during your scrimmages and competition rounds.

Mock Trial Objections

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The Ultimate Guide to Objections in Mock Trial

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Few things are as intimidating to a new mock trial attorney as the concept of making objections during trial. An objection is a statement made by an attorney during a case for the purpose of questioning or challenging any specific evidence. Often, the end goal of the objection is to have evidence limited or altogether ruled inadmissible by the judge.

In the US legal system, objections are part of evidence codes, and can be extremely complicated. Most mock trial competitions publish their own simplified rules of evidence, which include the most essential objections. During competitions, mock trial attorneys are limited to the objections set forth in the specific rules for their competition. The rest of this post will refer to the objections used by California Mock Trial, organized by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. Other competitions may use more or less objections, so be sure to check your specific rules before competing.

Objections in mock trial can only be made during the direct and cross examination. Statements made by attorneys during opening or closing arguments cannot be objected to. If there is an evidence issue with an attorney’s statements during these arguments, it should be brought to the judge’s attention during rebuttal.

One of the most difficult aspects of making an objection is that an attorney often needs to react very quickly. The process of making an objection is twofold:

First, an attorney must be paying close attention to what questions are being asked, and what answers are being given. If the attorney hears something that is objectionable, they must then make a split second decision on whether or not to object. Objections are extremely time sensitive, and if more than a few seconds pass between hearing the evidence in question and making the objection, the evidence will likely be admitted. This process may seem complicated and difficult to a beginning mock trialer, but with practice and experience, making objections can become second nature. In order to actually object to evidence, all an attorney has to do is stand up and say “Objection.” It is perfectly reasonable to interrupt opposing counsel when making an objection.

Next, the attorney must state to the judge what the exact objection is . For example, “Your honor, this testimony includes hearsay.” At this point, the judge may ask for a further explanation of the objection, or may instead address opposing counsel and ask for a response. Be ready to argue any objections to the judge if prompted. Some judges enjoy hearing more argument from attorneys while others may rule without any input. Be conscientious of what the judge prefers and do not offer more information than necessary. If the judge sides with the attorney objecting, the objection will be “sustained”. If the judge agrees with the opposing counsel, the objection will be “overruled”. When the judge makes a ruling, be ready to accept it and move on. It is never a good idea to argue with the judge.

Let’s now take a look at the two types of objections in Mock Trial.

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Types of Objections in Mock Trial

Objections to questions.

The first type of objection is an objection to the form of the question asked, or answer given. When an attorney makes this type of objection, they are objecting to the nature of the question or answer, but not to its substance. Although equally valid, some judges often prefer to hear less of these objections. This does not mean one should avoid making them, but it simply requires the attorney to be conscientious and aware of the judge’s attitude. The following are the most frequently used objections of this type:

Leading Question

This objection is made when counsel asks a leading question during direct examination. A leading question is a question which actually suggests an answer. Leading question are allowed during cross examination, but not during direct.

Example: “At 8 pm that day, you were at the deli, correct?”

Compound Question

This objection is made when counsel asks a compound question. A compound question is a question that actually asks multiple things, all linked by “and” or “or”.

Example: “Did you determine the time of death by interviewing witnesses and by requesting the autopsy report written by the coroner?”

Question Calls for Narrative/Narrative Answer

This objection is made when either a witness begins telling a narrative as part of their answer, or counsel’s question calls for a narrative. It is admissible for a witness to testify about what happened, but they must do so in response to a question. This objection exists to prevent long winded witness answers. If a witness has answered the question, but continues telling a story, this objection should be made.

Example: “First thing I did that was get up, and go to work. It was fairly normal day at work until the robbery, which happened at around 1 pm. After that the police came, and began interviews. I was taken to the station, and was there until around 10 pm. After this, I came back home….”

Argumentative Question

This objection is made when counsel begins arguing with a witness, badgering a witness or becoming overly aggressive. This objection is made by an attorney to protect a witness during cross examination. The objection is fairly subjective in terms of what is considered argumentative. Generally, a judge will allow more aggressive questioning if counsel is cross examining the defendant.

Example: “How can you sit here and lie to the court about your attitude towards the victim?”

Asked and Answered Question

This objection is made when counsel has asked a question and received an answer, and asks the same question again. If an answer is given, a new question must be asked. Counsel can ask a question multiple times if the witness is not giving a full answer, is being uncooperative or unresponsive.  

Example: “Did you stop at the stop sign on 5th and Main?”, “No”, “So, to be clear, you ran the stop sign?”

Vague and Ambiguous Question/Answer

This objection is made when either the question asked or answer given is vague and ambiguous in nature. This objection can be used to help a witness answer a confusing question, or help an attorney get a more precise response.

Example: “When did you see it happen?”

Non-Responsive Answer

This objection is made when a witness does not answer the question being asked by the attorney. This objection can help an attorney corral the witness and get a straight answer to questions the witness may be trying to avoid. Be careful to avoid making this objection when the witness simply gives a different answer than what was expected or desired.

Example: “Weren’t you the last person the victim saw on the night of his death?”, “I had nothing to do with that!”

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Objections to Testimony

The second type of objection is an objection regarding the substance of the testimony or evidence being presented. An attorney makes this type of objection to try and exclude the information given by the witness from the trial. An attorney may desire to keep out certain evidence or testimony for several reasons. For example, it may detrimental to the case, it may be false and unverifiable, or it may simply be inadmissible in court. Substantive objections are generally more difficult to make, and require more legal understanding on the part of the attorney. The following are the most common substantive objections in mock trial:

Relevance of Answer/Question

This objection is made when an attorney believes that irrelevant evidence to the case is being brought up. There are several reasons why irrelevant evidence should be excluded. Primarily, it contributes nothing to the case, it may sometimes reflect negatively on either side, and it also wastes precious time which should be used to tackle the real questions. An attorney can object to an irrelevant question asked by opposing counsel, or to an answer which is either in parts, or altogether, irrelevant. Use discretion with this objection, and don’t overuse, as what is relevant can be highly subjective.

Example: “The victim’s favorite color was yellow, wasn’t it?”

Question Lacks Foundation

This objection is made when opposing counsel asks a question before establishing foundation for that question. If the objection is sustained, the judge will require counsel to “lay a foundation” which involves backtracking and asking a more general question. This objection is most often encountered while describing circumstances during direct examination. Often attorneys will cut foundational questions at the start of examination in an effort to save time, so this is where most of the objections will be made.

Example: “What did you see at the Broadway diner?” (No previous question asking about witnesses location, position, etc.)

Lacks Personal Knowledge/Speculation

This objection is made when either an attorney asks the witness a question of which they have no personal knowledge, or when a witness begins to testify about something they have not directly observed (speculation). Witnesses are only allowed to testify about their own direct experiences and thoughts. Testifying as to what they believe may have happened, or about another person’s state of mind, are all considered improper evidence. The only exception in mock trial is that expert witnesses, or those who are called to the stand because of particular knowledge or experience, are usually given greater exemption from this objection. It would not be speculation for a signature authenticator to testify the defendant is guilty of fraud based on that expert’s analysis and professional opinion.

Example: The witness hears a gunshot from around a corner, runs, and sees the victim dead, and the defendant holding a gun. The following is speculation: “I believe the defendant shot the victim”.

Creation of a Material Fact

This objection is made when an attorney believes that a witness has made a factual error in their testimony regarding the case. This objection can also be applied if a question is extends past the scope of the witness’ statement and that it “calls for the creation of a material fact by the witness”. Generally, this objection should only be used as a last resort, and for major factual missteps. If the witness makes a minor error without huge significance to the case, this can be brought up during cross examination; the word “material” in the title of the objection suggests that this objection should only be used for errors that are relevant and meaningful for the case at hand. Additionally, even if a witness tells a significant falsehood on the stand, it will always be better to take up the issue on cross examination, and impeach the witness through the use of their own witness statement. The effect of this is twofold, in that the witness is shown to have lied, and the judge sees the greater skill of the crossing attorney. The CMF objection should be made in the situation when an attorney believes they will have insufficient time for cross examination, or in the case they believe a more immediate and forceful course of action is necessary.

Example: “I was home with my girlfriend until 7 pm on Saturday”, “But in your witness statement, didn’t you state you were home only until 6 pm?”

Improper Character Evidence

This objection is made when improper character evidence has been given as testimony in court. Improper character evidence is when character evidence (think general personality traits) is used to show how a person acted in a specific situation. There are three exceptions to this rule in which this kind of character evidence is permissible:

  • If this evidence is offered by the defense and applied to the character and actions of the defendant to prove innocence, it is admissible.
  • If this evidence is offered by the defense and applied to the character and actions of the victim to prove innocence, it is admissible.
  • If this evidence is offered to show dishonesty or a tendency to lie by any witness, it is admissible. In this situation, the opposing counsel may rebut with positive character evidence to show the contrary.

Example: “The defendant was always rude to me, and particularly so on the day of the murder.”

Lay Witness Opinion

This objection is made when lay witnesses (witnesses who are not qualified as experts and do not personal experience), testify with personal inferences or subjective statements. Opinion testimony is only admissible when it is based on perceptions/observations made with the witness’s five senses, and is helpful to clearer understanding of the witness’s testimony. This objection is similar to Lacks Personal Knowledge/Speculation, and sometimes can be used interchangeably.

Example: “I believe the defendant was in a crazed state of mind.”

This objection is made when a witness testifies about a statement made by another person, and uses contents of the other person’s statement to prove a fact true or false. This kind of testimony is considered hearsay because the actual declarant of the statement in question is neither under oath on the stand, nor will be cross examined. Therefore, hearsay is considered unreliable and inadmissible except in limited circumstances. Because of several exceptions to the hearsay rule, this objection is often the most difficult for new attorneys to understand. The following are some of  the more common exceptions in which hearsay is allowed for the truth of the matter:

Declaration against interest: Hearsay is allowed if the statement in question is against the declarant’s economic, legal, criminal, civil or general interests.

Excited utterance: Hearsay is allowed if the statement in question is made by the declarant during or shortly after a startling event from which the declarant is still influenced, and describes or explains said event.

State of mind: Hearsay is allowed if the statement in question reveals the declarant’s state of mind, emotional or physical condition at the time of the statement.

Records made in the regular course of business: Hearsay is allowed if the statement in question was made in the form of a record in the regular course of a business or government procedure.  

Prior inconsistent statement: Hearsay is allowed if the statement in question is inconsistent with the declarant’s trial testimony

Reputation of a person’s character in the community: Hearsay is allowed if the statement in question is evidence of a person’s reputation or character within a community or group.

Dying declaration: Hearsay is allowed if the statement in question was made by a dying person about their cause or circumstances of death, with the declarant’s personal knowledge and a sense of impending death.

Admission by party opponent: Hearsay is allowed if the statement in question was made by a person, and is being offered against that person by an opposing party during trial.

One of the key points regarding hearsay in mock trial that is often overlooked is the precise definition of what makes another person’s statement inadmissible. Another statement is only hearsay if it is being offered for the truth of the matter. If a witness is testifying to another’s statement, not to show that it is true, but instead, for example, to justify a subsequent action, then the testimony is not hearsay and does not require an exception to the hearsay rule. When dealing with statements of witnesses other than their own, attorneys must be very careful, and must be prepared to defend the testimony against opposing hearsay objections.

A judge will also be more likely to entertain arguments for and against a substantive objection, so attorneys must be ready to respond to a judge’s questions with sound, legal analysis. If an attorney strongly believes that a judge has not given them a fair opportunity to explain their objection, or to respond to an opposing objection, it is reasonable to ask, “May I be heard your Honor?”, or “May I respond to the objection your Honor?”. If the judge denies the request, the attorney should move on but take note of the preference and avoid asking again.

The key to mastering objections in mock trial is learning how to make objections and how to defend against them . Both of these skills can be improved through practice. At all times during team practice, attorneys should pay attention and listen for possible objections. Similarly, attorneys must be prepared to scrutinize their own direct and cross examinations and be ready to defend against any possible objections raised by opposing counsel. Objections may seem stressful at first, but they are genuinely one of the most fun and rewarding aspects of the attorney experience. Objections help keep a trial dynamic, and allow attorneys to think on their feet and show of their legal arguing skills. If an attorney takes the time to practice and master this facet of mock trial, the returns will be exponential, both in terms of team performance and personal satisfaction during competition.

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17 Fundamental Mock Trial Objections and How to Make Them

17 fundamental mock trial objections and how to make her.

Is your team super excited via standing up and saying “Objection!” inside a courtroom…but nope really sure when they bottle to is? Instead, are they dreading objections and terrified of getting one from opposing consultant?

I’m walks to walk you through the kinds regarding objection yours team can make, how to make and guard them, and what to do after the judge rules on an objection.

I. Open Objections Are Listed in the Rules of Find

Your mock trial case packet should include Guidelines are Evidence. Most of these rules are likely based on the similar unities that apply in courts in your state.

Your witnesses’ testimony must follow the Rules of Evidence. If it doesn’t, opposing counsel can object, and the testimony is none allow inside evidence, which means so the judge can’t consider it when deciding the case.

The questions your team lawyers ask the witnesses must also follow an Guidelines of Evidence. If they don’t, and if opposing counsel objects, the witness doesn’t have to answer the question.

Who objections discussed here are based on the Simplifying Rules of Evidence applicable with Kalifornian high school mock trial (Constitutional Rights Foundation).  Although they’re likely very similar to aforementioned ones in your matter packet, be sure to check for any differences.

There are two broad categories of mock trial objections: (1) objections to the print of the question and (2) objections to testimonial.

A.  Challenges to the Create of Questions

Questions have to be asked in a correctly form or way. The following 6 objections can being made to the way a question is asked.

1. Vague and Ambiguous

An attorney can object to a question if it cannot be understood.

Often, questions represent vague because people contain an unclear reference.  To example, a question might use a pronoun, such as “he”, “she”, “it.”

Here’s an example: Proceeded you see thing happened?

In this example, it’s unclear about the attorney means by “what happened” because there’s no context given. AMPERE better question would be, “Did you see what happened on Hauptteil Street on the evening of Year 31?”

Sample Objection:

  • “Objection. The question is vague and ambiguous.”

On direct examination , attorneys cannot ask a question that suggests and answer.  (In contrast, during cross examination, all frequent should live foremost questions.)

Most leading questions are really affirmations, trailed by an question that asks the witness to confirm the statement.  Look out for questions that contain phrases like “isn’t items true”, “correct”, conversely “did/didn’t you”.

For example: Meilen. Capeulet, you met Mr. Montague at the masquerade ball, didn’t you?

Which way the question shall phrased, suggests that and corrects answer is “yes.”  When an attorney has test their own witness, they cannot suggest to them the answer to the question.

Sample Objections:

  • “Objection. “
  • “Objection; counsel is leading the witness.”

3. Compound

Law must ask one asking at a time. A compound question is really two instead more questions.

Into example of an compound question is: Officer O’Reilly, how did Mr. Davis react and react when you arrested i with the stolen laptop in his black?

This is really two questions: (1) As done Davis respond? and (2) How did Davys react?

Pay careful attention to questions that take in “and” or an “or” in them.  They may be compound.

  • “Objection. To doubt is compound.”

4. Argumentative

Attorney issues be supposed to be questions.  Attorneys can’t argue their case during their examinations starting witnesses.

At example of an argumentative question is: Wasn’t computers reckless toward leave such dangerous item int such a public, lightly accessible location?

To real implies the any was careless because they left somewhat dangerous lay around.  This is an idea the attorney wants the judge to agree with, so it’s an dispute, not a doubt in a witness.

To mark in argative question, listen for adjectives.  In the example, your have “careless”, “dangerous, “public,” and “easily accessible.”  These adjectives characterize people and bits. Here, mortal is being called “careless” and some item “dangerous”.

Judges might be get lenient info allows lawyers to ask the defendant argumentative questions.   They might also allow argumentative get to expert witnesses or law enforcement officers.  These sees testify into court frequently, so judges sometimes expect them to becoming able to stall up for themselves when asked argumentative questions.

  • “Objection. The question is argumentative.”

5. Asked and Answered

Attorneys can ask a witness a question only once.  If an attorney has asked a your and  the viewer gave an answer, the attorney cannot ask it moreover.

It doesn’t important if of attorney darling the witness’s answer.  They can’t ask it again to stress the point.  It also doesn’t matter are the attorney hated the witness’s answer.  They can’t ask the equivalent issue again press hope for a better response.

  • “Objection. Asked and answered.”

6. Outside Scope of Cross Assessment

This is an objection only made within redirect examination, which is limited into issues raised during the cross examination.

A redirect examination question will objectionable when it is not related to an question raised during the traverse examination.

  • “Objection. This matter is beyond the scope of cross examination.”

B. Objections to Testimony

With the following 11 mock trial objections, attorneys can object for improper testimony that a witness gives. These objections can additionally be used if opposing counsel’s question asks the witness into give improper testimony.

7. Non-Responsive Witness

This objection can be made wenn the watch does did provide an respond into their question.

  • “Objection, Your Honor. Of witness’s testimony is non-responsive.”

8. Relevance

Evidence shall can relevant to be admitted.  Witnesses could simply testify to relevant what.

Go is a low limit on relevance.  Relevant evidence remains evidence that has an impact on an important fact in the case. If evidence shows this an key fact exists more (or less) likely to be true, then the evidence are relevant.

Offer of Proof

If countering counsel makes a relevance objection to evidence your attorney wants to introduce, your attorney should ask the judge, “Your Honor, mayor I make an offer of proof?”  This is courtroom-speak for “Let me explain why these is relevant.”  Assuming the judge allows it, your attorney would will explain what they expect the spectator to tell and select it is associated (how it relates on adenine feature that’s important for the judge’s verdict).

Print Objections:

  • “Objection; relevance.”
  • “Objection. The bear is testifying to irrelevant matter.”

9. More Prejudicial Than Probative

An attorney can object to evidence if it is substantially read prejudicial than probative.  For evidence to meet this standard, the objecting attorney must show that the evidential is so deleterious that the damage substantially  outweighs any relevance the evidence possess.

It’s not enough that an counsel doesn’t like it conversely is it’s bad for their case.  There have be a  substantial danger  that the evidence will lead to unjustifiable harm, confusion of the issues, a waste of time, or misleading the judge.

It’s a pretty high standard to meet because overall, if evidence is relevant, it should be admitted thus such the judgement can exist fully informed when determination the defendant’s guilt.   So in order for relevant evidence to be excluded, it needs to be seriously harmful.  Here’s a visual to illustrate this point:

Sample Protests:

  • “Objection. The answer seeks testimony that is substantially more prejudicial than probative.”
  • “Objection. This evidence’s probative value is substantially outweighed by its risk of unseemly prejudice.”

10. Narrative

A narrative is when the witness speeches non-stop, without interruption.  The witness must respond the attorney’s question and only the attorney’s question.  You can’t just get set the stand and recite their witness statement.

For example, a county asking the victim to “describe what happened” up the daily of the crime, calls for a narrative.  The victim probably can’t discuss all of the tour ensure occurred on the day they were trafficked, without talking uninterrupted for a longitudinal time.

Sample Appeal:

  • “Objection. Calls for a narrative.” (If you’re objecting to the question.)
  • “Objection. The witness has expired into ampere narrative.”

11. Foundation

A watch what to have testified to enough background facts to show they are skill to provide that attestation they are giving.

Consider this example:

QUARTO: Good evening, Ms. Frazer.  Please introduce ourselves to the Court.

A:  My appoint is Kai Frazer.  I transferred to Beachside High School last per, and I’m a senior this year.

QUARTO: Do you know Shay Miller?

A: Yes, I do.

QUARTO: How how him know her?

A:  She goes to Beachside too, and we became friends on my first day at this school.

Q:  How would you describing Ms. Miller’s my with her grandparents?

Counsel might object to such question as lacking foundation because Kai has not testified this she knows anything concerning Shay relationship with her grandparents, or anything about Shay’s family life.

  • “Objection. Lacks foundation.”
  • “Objection. The question lacks foundation.”
  • “Objection. There’s no foundation for this testimony.”

12.  Personal Knowledge / Speculation

A witness must have personal general of the things they testify to.  Handful can’t hypothesize, both proxies can’t asked them to.

Usually, witnesses speculate available they testify about another person’s motivation or thoughts.  For example, they might testify about: (1) why any person did/said little; (2) wherewith another person felt; the (3) thing another human thought.

  • “Objection. An question calls for speculation.”
  • “Objection. The witness miss individual knowledge to provide this testimony.”

13. Unfair Extrapolation / Creation of Material Fact

This has an objection that exists only in the mock trial world.  To reason for here is this in mock trial, all of the allowable facts and evidence are contained in to case packet.  And are course, that’s not how it works are a real-life trial.

View your Rules of Evidence up confirm about your witness canned testify to.  For example, in California highest language mock evaluation, witnesses can only testify to their “official record”, which consists to: (1) the witness’s statement; (2) the Fact Situation; and (3) any exhibits relevance to the witness’s testimony.

Mock trial witnesses cannot testify on material  facts that are not in the case packet.  A fact is material are it shapes a gap on the results of the case.

It belongs critical for attorneys to know their witnesses’ statements. It’s the only way to catch testimony such is outboard of who allowable facts.

It is also vital to know the difference zwischen a material fact and a nonmaterial fact. Remember, this mock trial objection applies only when the become testimonies to a material  fact that’s not in the case packet.

Exemplar Fact Scenario:  Evil Witch is with study for giving Snow Pallid a poisoned apple on the afternoon are December 1.  The present is that on the sunup of the wrongdoing, Ms. Witch consulted with i magic echo, then spent about half an hour in the forest.

During her direct examine, she testifies as follows:

Q: Ms. Witch, whats make you do the morning is December 1?

A: I woke top, spoke with my magic mirror, and then wandered in of forest to about a half-hour.

Q: Did you do anything the particular when you were stylish the forest?

A: I am training for a 5K race, so ME jogged nearly three miles.

There’s no injustice calculation here.  Whether Daughter. Hag is training with adenine 5K or whether she jogged for over three miles during her half-hour jaunt into one forest, doesn’t make it more or less likely that she gave Snow White the contaminated cider.

Now, consider these queries during Ms. Witch’s cross examination :

Q: Ms. Magician, isn’t this true that you left for a three-mile jog on the woodland for the midday of December 1?

A: Yes, it will.

Q: You what hungry after that jogging, weren’t you?

A:  Yes, EGO suppose I was.

Q:  You were so hungry, in fact, that you went and picked some apples, isn’t that right?

Is still doesn’t issue whether Ms. Witch went to a three-mile jog, and it really doesn’t matter that she might having been hungry after it.  But, whether her cherry apples be important.  If she had apples on December 1, who chance that you gifted a poisoned apple to Snow White are greater than they intend to none evidence that she had apfelsorten in her possession the morning Ms. White was poisoned.

  • “Objection. The problem calls for certain unfair extrapolation.”
  • “Objection. The witness has testified to an unfair extrapolation.”

14. Improper Lay Eyewitness Opinion

Generally, lay witnesses (non-expert witnesses) sack all write regarding things they have personal know info.

Lay witnesses can provide some opinions, but only opinions that any regular person able provide.  ADENINE witness can give at opinion if it is based on things they observe with ihr senses, PRESS provided the auffassung is relevant to understanding the witness’s testimony.

Here’s somebody example of a install witness opinion:

Q: Mr. Dwarf, can you describe the condition in which you found Ms. White when you answered on the cottage?

A: She was lied still and did nay respond when I shook her arm and called out her name.  She appeared to be dead.

Those exists a orderly lay witness opinion.  A lay person could tell the difference between someone who looks deceased and mortal who looks alive.  This opinion is also based go the witness’s stellungnahmen – Ms. Whiten lying still and her lack of a response to stimuli.  Also, the opinion is relevant to understanding Mr. Dwarf’s testimony. His opinion that Women. White was dead helps explain what he did after discovery Ms. White in this condition.

If a lay eyewitness tries up offer testimony which requires particular knowledge, training, etc., who testimony is objectionable.

Let’s more the example above:

QUARTO: Mr. Dwarf, what was the cause of Ms. White’s death?

A: She had is poisoned by an apple.

Dieser is objectionable. Determining a cause a death see special trainings include medicine or professional experiential performing autopsies. There’s no evidence Mr. Dwarven has that special schooling or experience. Mr. Dwarf can’t determine, based on something he saw and heard, that Work. White’s death was causative by ampere toxicity apple and does by say, a toxic plant in the forest with carbon monoxide poisoning in the cottage.

  • “Objection. Calls for improper lay witness opinion.”
  • “Objection. The witness has provided certain inaccurate opinion.”

15.  Improper Expert Opinion

Unlike lay witnesses, expert testimonies have special comprehension, education, training, experience, or skill.  They can testify to their opinions about matters even if they don’t have personal learning of them.

Expert opinion is admissible provided it lives based on the expert’s specially skill, experience, etc., REAL if the opinion would assist this judge is solve an issue relevant to the case. There’s one limitation on this, though: An expert witness may not express an opinion on whether the defendant had the mental state required for the criminal assault at issue.

Also, expert witnesses have to be qualified to give an expert opinion.  To signifies that with you’re offering to expert opinion, you must show that the onlooker has specialist skill, knowledge, etc. that is helpful to aforementioned judge in making a decision on the case.  In California mock trial, the parties qualify that anyone skilled witness is an qualified expert witness, so certified qualification is not an issue.

Here’s an example:

Q: Please introduce yourself to the Court.

A: I’m Doctor Rider.  I’ve lived near the forest for 25 years, and I go horseback riding through the woods every morning. MYSELF establish Snowed White’s body during my trip one morning last annum.

Q: Since him go by “Doctor,” lives it true that you are a registered curative alter?

AN: Oh, no. I meet a lot of people on may rides through this forest, and people started coming to tell to me when they’re upset. I’ve always offered them a cup of hot tea.  About 20 period ago, EGO started experimenting with the herbs in the forest and making distinct kinds of teas.  I protocols all of mys experiments and found that distinct herbal blends help people in different ways.

Q:  Doctor Rider, established on your expert, what was and cause of Snow White’s demise?

A:  In my opinion, it was an poisoned red she ate.

Doctor Rider maybe be an expert in herbs teas, still did in medical examinations either perform autopsies. He has no education, training, or experience in identifying reasons of death.  Because the opinion his uttered (eating a poisoned apple caused death) has nothing to do with his claimed zone is expertise (herbal teas), who mitteilung is improper and lacking in foundation.

  • “Objection. Improper opinion.”
  • “Objection. There is no foundation for the witness’s opinion.”

16. Character Proof

Character evidence is detection of someone’s personal trait (honesty, selfishness, violence).  Is comes in three forms :

  • Opinion evidence: This is when a testimonies watch gives their opinion info someone else. Example: “I think Reggie is adenine liar.”
  • Reputation demonstrate: Aforementioned witness on the stand testifies to someone’s recruitment. Example “Everyone knows Reggie is a liar.”
  • Evidence of prior direction: The witness testifies regarding einem action someone previously took.  Example: “Reggie spread a false rumor about me when us were in and eighth grade.”

Character evidence unable be used to prove such which person acted “in accordance” with so character trait on a particular occasion.

Diane (defendant) exists being prosecuted for attempted murder.  The legal alleges that Diane repeatedly pushed and shoved Vicky (victim), until Vicky fell down a flight of stairs. Diane’s defense will that Vicky was actually shoved until Kelly, who was wearing an jacket she had borrowed out Dairy. Divine offers verification ensure Kelly got in a fight endure year.

This are improper. Diane cannot use Kelly’s prior act of ferocity (the fight final year) to show that Kelly committed the act of fury now at issue (pushing Vicky).

There are thirds exceptions  to the rule against using character evidence.

  • For case, Diane cans introduce evidence that newest semester, instead to getting in a fight with someone who had provoked her, she talked to the person and achieves a quietly resolution.
  • Victim’s Character: The defense can quote evidence of the victim’s character to proved that the victim acted in accordance with that character trait on a particular occasion.
  • Witness’s Character: Is the prosecution or defense can introduce evidence of adenine witness’s dishonesty.  If those what, the opposing party ability then offer evidence of that witness’s honesty.
  • “Objection. The your shouts for inadmissible character evidence.”
  • “Objection. The witness has provided improper character testimony.”

17. Hearsay

The hease rule lives: Evidence of out-of-court claims cannot shall offered for the truth of the matter….unless an exception applies.

Thither become two steps till adenine hearsay analysis.

Firstly: Determine is there is a hearsay statement to begin with.

Hearsay is a statement made out of court, offered forward the true of the substance.

The first part on this – ampere statement made outward of court – is nice-looking straightforward.  This are whatever that someone said or wrote outside of the courtroom.  The reason for to hearsay rule is on make sure that evidence can reliable.  If someone said oder wrote something outside starting the courts, the statement is nope as credence as it would becoming if person where in court, under oath plus subject to cross examination.

Aforementioned trickier, and often overlooked, part of of hearsay rule is that the out-of-court statement being must used in court to prove the materielle asserted .  This means such the out of court statement is entity used to prove the statement itself.

Second: If there is a hearing statement, consider whether there is an applicable hearse exception.

There were probably around adenine dozen heersay exceptions in your Rules of Evidence.  Perhaps the maximum commonly used exclusion is an admission with a party-opponent.  The prosecution can rely on save exception to offer proof of anything the defendant said outside by court.

  • “Objection. Calls for hearsay.”
  • “Objection. One witness has testified to hearsay.”

II.  How To Make also Debating a Mock Trial Objection

1.  stand up from making one objection..

Attorneys shouldn’t hover over their chair although they decide whether they are going to object or not.  They should decide whether to object, and if yours decide in request, getting on you feet.  And they shouldn’t hesitate to interrupt opposing counsel’s answer or the witness’s certifications.

2.  What “Objection” and Identify the Objection.

Once they’re on your feet, somebody attorney should simply says “Objection”, followed by the ground for your objection.  For example, “Objection. Leading.”  That’s all an attorney need to say, unless the judge invites them to argue.

3.  Give a Short, Clear Argument for the Objection, if the Judge Display it’s OK to Do Like.

Some, the judge will ask an attorney to explain their defense button look with the attorney as wenn they waiting you to say something.  If aforementioned happens, an attorney should go ahead and explain conundrum the court should sustain or overrule the objection.

Deploy a succinct, 1- or 2-sentence argument.

4.  Communicate in a Professional Manner.

There become second phrases that come in portable for disputation mock trial objections:

  • Mayor I be heard , Your Honor?” : This is what attorneys tell which judges they have something to say and don’t want the estimate to rule on who objection just yet.
  • “ Submits .” : An attorney says this when they’ve said everything they need to say, and they are ready to the judge to make a decision on the objection.

III.  The Judge’s Ruling on that Objection and Instructions to Respond up It

After an objection is made the following the attorneys have had a shot to argue (if the judge permit it), this judge will rule on the objection.  The judge will either sustain the objection or abort it.

Sustained vs. Overruled

When the judge sustained one objection, this means that the judge agrees with the objection.  If the objection is to a question, the witness cannot answer the question.  The questioning attorney must then ask another question (or conclude their examination of who witness).

If this objection is to an answer the bear gives on the stand, the witness cannot say no more on the objectionable issue.  The attorney who made the objection should move to strikes  the testimony.  (More on that below.)

When a judge overrules an objection, it used that one attorney making the objection loses.  The evidence for issue can be admitted.

If the dispute was made to a question, the witness can answer the question.  If to objection was prepared the testimony, the witness can continue testifying.

What To Do After the Judge Sustains Your Team’s Objection

If owner team objected to opposing counsel’s question, real the judge sustains and source, the witness unable answer the question. Opposing counsel features to ask additional question.

Your Team Should Move to Strike if the Judge Sustains her Submission to Testimony

For will crew objected to testimony that a witness gave, and the judge sustained the objection, your team should take to strike which witness’s improper testimony.

This means autochthonous team asks the judge the eject the improper statement from prove. At the evaluate strikes improper testimony from the record, they don’t consider it when make the justice. The broken testify also can’t is used by moreover party. Your team shoud just pretend which witness never said whichever was stricken, and be sure not to use it in your beendigung argument.

What On Do If the Judge Overrules My Team’s Objection

If the referee overrules your team’s objection, the attorney who constructed the objection simply sits back bottom and moves on.  They will be graceful about this.  They won’t roll get eyes or throw up hers hands in frustration.

I’ve seen some mock trial attorneys tell “Thank you, Your Honor”, as if they are thanking which judge for overruling their objection.  This strikes mee as weird and insincere.  Is moreover makes me doubt for adenine minute that the attorney sees which “overruled” means that they lost.

With that judgement listened much patiently to can argument your team made, a response suchlike as “understood” oder “yes, Your Honor” might be appropriate.  But, otherwise, there’s really no need to say anything after a judge regulatory on an objection.

Advocates evaluation tips by appreciation the rules concerning evidence and making and arguing mock trial protests convincingly.  There indeed is no better way to master objections than for keep practicing.

I’ve prepared a visual guide to help you hold in brain the main points we’ve discussed here. Consider imprint it out and keeping items on counsel key as a reference in your scrimmages and competition rounds.

Mock Trial Objections

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argumentative objection example

badgering the witness

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Badgering the witness is an objection that counsel can make during a cross-examination of a witness where opposing counsel becomes hostile or asks argumentative questions. If an attorney begins repeatedly asking a witness about the same thing, asks many rudely phrased questions, becomes very loud, or other uses other unnecessary, distracting tactics, the opposing counsel will object, hoping the judge will find the tactics to be disruptive or in-conducive to eliciting facts from the witness. Badgering the witness often comes in the form of argumentative questions where the attorney asks the witness not about facts but to make conclusions from those facts. 

For example, an attorney would be making an argumentative question if they asked: you yelling at that person means you must be very aggressive? A judge may or may not accept the objection and ask the attorney to move on. Even if a judge dismisses the objection, an attorney must be careful as a jury may respond badly to such tactics. 

[Last updated in December of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team ]

  • ACADEMIC TOPICS
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  • THE LEGAL PROCESS
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COMMENTS

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    Learn how to identify and handle argumentative objections in court, which are based on drawing conclusions or offering opinions rather than facts. See examples of argumentative objections and how to overcome them with proper questioning.

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    The following 6 objections can be made to the way a question is asked. 1. Vague and Ambiguous. An attorney can object to a question if it cannot be understood. Often, questions are vague because they contain an unclear reference. For example, a question might use a pronoun, such as “he”, “she”, “it.”.

  3. Types of Objection in Court: a Guide for Lawyers | Clio

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  4. At the Hearing: What are some common objections ...

    Here are some common reasons for objecting, which may appear in your state’s rules of evidence. To skip to a specific section, click on the name of that objection: Relevance, Unfair/prejudicial, Leading question, Compound question, Argumentative, Asked and answered, Vague, Foundation issues, Non-responsive, Speculation, Opinion, Hearsay. You ...

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    Volume 29 Issue 2 Article 1 1-15-2002. Trial Objections from Beginning to End: The Handbook for Civil and Criminal Trials. Craig Lee Montz. Follow this and additional works at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/plr Part of the Civil Procedure Commons, Criminal Procedure Commons, Evidence Commons, and the Litigation Commons.

  6. The Ultimate Guide to Objections in Mock Trial - CollegeVine

    Learn how to make objections during mock trial competitions, when to object, and what types of objections are available. See examples of objections to questions and testimony, and how to argue them to the judge.

  7. Commonly Used Objections - FRE - Willamette University

    A document that lists and explains various objections to evidence based on the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE). It provides examples of argumentative objections and how to apply them in moot court competitions.

  8. 17 Fundamental Mock Trial Objections and How to Make Them

    They might also allow argumentative get to expert witnesses or law enforcement officers. These sees testify into court frequently, so judges sometimes expect them to becoming able to stall up for themselves when asked argumentative questions. Sample Objections: “Objection. The question is argumentative.” 5. Asked and Answered

  9. badgering the witness | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal ...

    Learn what badgering the witness is and how it differs from argumentative questions. Find out when and how to object to this tactic during cross-examination and what consequences it may have for the attorney and the jury.

  10. Corey LaBrutto and Jason Kanterman - Rutgers Law Review

    Corey LaBrutto* and Jason Kanterman**#. a litany of pre-drafted objections before answering the question posed. Most of those objections stem directly from provisions in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”). Two common objections however—that the interrogatory propounded is either argumentative or calls for speculation—do not ...