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"JUDGE, YOU DON'T HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE THAT RULING!" Your Attorney Yells Out. Can He Do That During Trial?

He can do it, but better beware...here's why...

You sued your doctor for medical malpractice. 

You believe your physician was careless and caused you permanent harm.

The defense refuses to accept responsibility for their actions. They refuse to negotiate. 

Your case goes to trial three years later.

During trial, the judge makes a ruling that your lawyer disagrees with.

Your lawyer stands up and yells out "OBJECTION JUDGE! YOU DON'T HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE THAT RULING!"

You're sitting in the back of the courtroom wondering what your lawyer is talking about. How could the Judge not have the authority to make a legal ruling? That makes no sense.

The Judge gets angry at the suggestion that he doesn't have the authority to make a ruling in his courtroom.

"How dare you question my authority counselor. One more time and I'm holding you in contempt of court!" the Judge responds with fury.

It turns out that your case is going badly. Your lawyer is doing everything possible to get the jury distracted. Every medical expert the defense puts on the witness stand is destroying your case. One piece of evidence at a time. Your lawyer is trying to create a distraction. Something to upset the flow of the questioning and the jury's attention.

He's made many objections about the questions and the witnesses. The jury is getting tired of his antics.
Out of the blue, your attorney jumps up and objects to this witness testifying...again.

The judge says "Objection overruled. Now sit down counsellor."

Your lawyer stands up again and yells out "OBJECTION JUDGE! YOU DON'T HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE THAT RULING!"

Contrary to that statement, he does. You see, the Judge controls everything that goes on in his courtroom. He controls which witnesses get to testify. He controls when court starts and ends. He decides what questions are appropriate and what evidence can be shown to the jury.

If the Judge makes an error in his legal rulings, the losing party can appeal that issue to a higher court. In New York the trial level court is known as the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The higher level court would then be the Appellate Division. If an attorney wanted to appeal a decision by the Appellate Division, he'd have to try and appeal to the highest court in New York, known as the Court of Appeals.

Your attorney may be trying to bait the Judge. He may want to get into a heated argument in front of the jury to appear as if he's being taken advantage of. He may simply be putting on a show and to preserve his right to appeal your losing case.

From the jury's perspective, this looks bad. It looks really bad.

The jury understands that the trial Judge is THE AUTHORITY in the courtroom. They take direction from him. They get instructions on the law from him. The Judge tells them what they can and can't do. Who is this renegade attorney to tell the Judge that he doesn't have the legal authority to make such a ruling?

Jurors may find this type of behavior offensive. That could come back to hurt you, the client since your lawyer is speaking FOR YOU. On the other hand, your lawyer could argue that he's simply being the best advocate for you and doing everything legally possible to show that you're entitled to a verdict in your favor.

Just to show how crazy this scenario is, let's look at the most recent Presidential election involving Trump v. Clinton. Trump claimed that so many news outlets were creating fake news. Everybody said he was crazy and how could he point fingers at the news media and still win the election? 

Well, we know how that worked out, right?

The same could be true at trial. However, if your attorney is really going to question the Judge's authority, he should have a good faith basis to do it and not just to create a side show to divert the juror's attention.

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


Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer