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Is there a risk for a trial lawyer to object repeatedly to questions and topics being discussed by the defense attorney? Is there a limit to the number of times an attorney can object during trial?


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10/13/2014
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Imagine observing a trial where one attorney objects to almost every single question that is being asked.

What type of impression do you think the jury would get if an attorney were to do this?

  • The jury would think the attorney was trying to hide something.
  • The jury would think that the attorney not only had something to hide but was doing everything possible to make sure the jury didn't hear it. 
  • The jury would get the opinion that the attorney was being secretive.

Does that mean that a lawyer should not object when a question is improper?

The answer is no.

Does that mean an attorney should not object if the subject being discussed has nothing to do with the claims being made or the defensess being raised?

Of course not.

To answer the question, there is no set definable number of times that an attorney can object during the course of a trial.

However, it is critical that an attorney carefully balance the risk of objecting too often with the risk of not protecting his client's rights in making an objection known.

What really is the purpose of objecting to a question or topic during trial?

The real purpose is not only to alert the jury and the court that something is improper but also to preserve their right to appeal this issue if they lose at trial.

Did you know that if an attorney does not make an objection during trial,and later appeals the case and tries to claim that a specific question or specific topic never should have been allowed, the appeals court looks carefully to see whether the attorney objected during the course of trial.

If the attorney did not raise any objection during trial, the appeals court will come to the conclusion that he waived his right to appeal that particular issue.

That is why the attorney must balance carefully the risk of objecting too much compared to the risk of not objecting and losing the right to appeal that issue if they lose at trial.

There are some instances however where an attorney will strategically choose not to raise a big stink and raise lots of objections while his adversary is questioning a witness. Instead, during a break in the testimony the attorney may ask the judge for permission to put on the record a continuing line of objection to the judge's ruling as well as allowing the defense attorney to question this witness in this fashion.

This is one instance where putting an objection on the record before testimony begins as well as during the testimony can, in some cases, preserve the lawyer's right to appeal if he loses the case.

If an attorney were to make objections continuously, he would look like a yo-yo bouncing up and down. Here's why...

Every time an attorney addresses the judge and makes an objection, he must stand up and voice his objection loud and clear. If he were to object after every question, he would be standing up and then sitting down repeatedly.

That act alone makes him look like a circus sideshow.

Then, the jury will begin to wonder why this attorney is trying to prevent this testimony and information from coming out.

When it goes on repeatedly, the judge will likely get angry. The jury tends to follow the judge's lead and if the judge has expressed anger or resentment toward the attorney, the jury may feel the same way.

I find that some of the best trial attorneys in New York are ones who use objections infrequently. They do this to protect their client when necessary and at the same time they don't want to appear as if they are obstructing or preventing the jury from hearing the testimony.

To learn even more about trial objections, I invite you to watch the video below...



Category: General


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