"OBJECTION! What the hell is he talking about Judge? I OBJECT!" screams the plaintiff's attorney.
"Objection sustained!" the judge says with authority.
Or, how about this one...
The defense lawyer asks my client "Mrs. Schwartz, isn't it true you were arrested for trespassing last year?"
"Objection sustained!" the judge yells back.
Or, how about ths one...
In a medical malpractice case,
"Dr. Clumsy Hands, isn't it true that Federal Agents raided your office and accused you of Medicare fraud and writing unnecessary prescriptions?"
"Objection sustained," the judge says calmly as if he's just been interrupted drinking his tea.
In each of these examples, the judge says "Objection Sustained!"
What exactly does that mean?
First, before I answer that question, you need to know what an objection is during trial.
He needs the judge to intervene.
He needs an immediate ruling from the judge.
The attorney needs to make sure that a piece of evidence is kept out.
He needs to keep a medical expert from testifying.
There are many reasons why an attorney will object at trial.
He might object to a question being asked.
He might object to what a witness will say.
When an attorney objects at trial, he is required to stand up and yell out "Objection!"
Then, he must give the judge a very brief legal reason for why he has now interrupted his adversary.
"Objection judge, that's hearsay!"
"Objection judge, he's badgering my client!"
The judge will then ask the defense lawyer to reply to my objection.
It must be brief as most judges refuse to have lengthy oral argument about legal issues in front of the jury.
Many times the judge will command the attorneys to approach the bench.
At that point the judge wants legal argument so the jury can't hear it.
So, I've made an objection.
The defense lawyer is questioning the doctor whom my client has sued.
He's asking him a question about a conversation.
A conversation between the doctor and a nurse at the hospital.
I jump up out of my seat a fraction later and scream out "OBJECTION JUDGE! THAT'S HEARSAY!"
The judge responds immediately and says "Objection sustained."
What does that mean?
It means that the question is improper and should not be answered.
It means the witness is not to answer the question.
In this example the attorney wanted the doctor to tell the jury about a conversation he had with a nurse.
Here's the problem...
The nurse is not part of this lawsuit.
We have no idea what she said.
Even if the doctor were to tell the jury and the judge what this nurse said, how do I know it's true?
Are we to believe that the doctor's statement is 100% true just because he said so?
Sorry, that's not how this works.
Since the defense has no intention of calling this nurse to testify, then how are we to verify the nurse's statement?
How are we to verify her credibility?
Since we can't, the doctor is prevented from telling us anything about their conversation.
Remember, the judge controls everything that happens in the courtroom.
He controls when we take breaks.
He controls scheduling.
The judge makes legal rulings.
Rulings on which evidence gets admitted.
The judge decides which witnesses will be allowed to testify.
The judge decides what happens if someone violates his orders.
The jury decides what the real facts are in the case.
They are the fact-finders.
The jury decides whether we have shown that we are more likely right than wrong.
The court reporter records every question and answer.
The court reporter records every legal argument and every legal ruling.
When an attorney makes an objection during trial, the trial judge has typically three options...
"You beat your wife every night"
This is a fantastic and wild accusation.
What does that have to do with the claims being made by the injured patient against her careless doctor?
There's only one reason to ask such an outrageous question.
To inflame the jury.
Does it matter if the attorney has proof of this?
Does it matter if Mr. Jones was arrested for this?
Being arrested does not mean he pleaded guilty to this charge.
Beating his wife, while morally wrong and reprehensible, has nothing to do with the claims he's raising or even his credibility.
Therefore, the judge will say "Objetion sustained!"
If someone was arrested but not convicted or pleaded guilty, an attorney cannot ask about the arrest.
The arrest is meaningless.
It just means the police put you in custody and possibly charged you with a crime.
Dont' forget, in New York and in every state in the United States, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
That's to inflame the jury.
If they were convicted or plead guilty, the defense attorney can ask about those things and the witness must answer them.
Same thing with Federal agents raiding the doctor's office.
That doesn't mean the doctor is guilty of Medicare fraud.
He hasn't plead guilty.
That means the question is improper.
Hopefully this article has given you a sense of what "Objection Sustained" is during a civil trial here in New York.