"OBJECTION!" is a word you'll hear often during a civil trial here in New York.
It is yelled out in every medical malpractice trial.
It's yelled out in every personal injury trial.
It's uttered in every wrongful death trial.
If you are sitting in the back of the courtroom watching and observing you will hear this word shouted many times.
You'll hear it shouted when the injured patient takes the witness stand.
You'll hear an attorney yell it during cross examination.
You might even hear it during opening arguments.
You might hear it during closing arguments.
When an attorney yells out "OBJECTION!" you will also notice something else remarkable.
You'll notice the lawyer who is making the objection have what appears to be an epileptic fit as he jumps up out of his chair and stands straight to tell the judge "I Object Your Honor!"
Let's get right to why an attorney has to object during trial.
It's because something is wrong with the question being asked.
Your attorney might feel that the question is irrelevant to the issues in the case.
Let's say you sue your doctor claiming he violated the basic standard of care causing you harm.
If your attorney were to ask "Doctor, how often do you beat your wife at night?" that would get an immediate objection.
Your attorney would argue that question is irrelevant and totally improper.
Your attorney might object because the witness is talking about a conversation she had with a friend.
This friend is not part of this lawsuit and isn't in court to be questioned about that conversation.
That would be "Objection Judge. That's hearsay!"
Maybe your attorney objects to a medical record being introduced into evidence.
Maybe he doesn't want the jury to learn about things a nurse overheard in the emergency room that have no bearing on the issues in this case.
"Judge, I object to those records being introduced. It's an admission against interest and also irrelevant."
Maybe those records reveal that you were drinking heavily before you arrived at the emergency room.
The jury might not appreciate a drunk and disorderly patient trying to obtain money as a form of compensation for whatever the doctor did wrong.
"Objection Judge, he's badgering my witness!" is another objection.
That happens when the opposing attorney is a nasty SOB and wants the jury to know it.
You should know that there are tons of objections an attorney can raise at trial.
When an attorney raises any objection, the judge has to make a snap decision about who is legally right.
If the judge feels that the attorney who objected is right, he will say "Objection sustained."
That means that the question is improper and the witness is not to answer it.
Or, the exhibit being offered is improper and will not be admitted into evidence.
If the judge feels the objection is not correct, the judge will say "Objection overruled."
That means the witness can answer the question.
Or, it means the medical record will be admitted into evidence.
The primary reason an attorney makes an objection is to preserve his right to appeal if he loses the case.
In New York, if an attorney fails to object during the trial, loses his case and then tries to appeal, arguing there were errors of law, the first thing the appeals court will look at is whether the attorney raised the objection during the trial.
If he didn't, the appeals court will consider his objection waived and he will likely lose his appeal.
Sometimes an attorney will make an objection for strategic reasons.
One reason might be to throw off the attorney's tempo.
Maybe you want to throw off the attorney's train of thought.
Maybe it's a diversion.
I have found that the best and most experienced trial lawyers tend to limit the number of objections they make during trial.
They feel that if they make all the objections that they're entitled to make and should make, it will draw unwanted attention to them.
The jury may feel as if the attorney is trying to hide something.
Sometimes it may be better to let the objection slide.
To learn more about the type of objections that can be made during trial, I invite you to watch the quick video below...