Quick List of Objections

“Objection your Honor – counsel is badgering the witness!”   The days of speaking objections during jury trials may well be numbered.  Most judges now specifically instruct counsel only to object “as to form."   Some judges permit a brief statement of the basis of the objection such as “leading.”  Sidebars outside the presence of the jury are used to address the details.  The problem with sidebars is that they occur off the record.  At the next available recess, make sure to restate the details of the objection on the record.

Here is a quick reference list of objections for your trial notebook.

Counsel conduct

  • Coaching the witness - State ex rel. Means v. King, 205 W.Va. 708, 520 S.E.2d 875 (1999).
  • Cutting off witness answers -  State v. Fukusaku, 85 Hawai'i 462, 946 P.2d 32 (1997).
  •  Gestures or signals to witness or jury - Greenberg v. United States, 280 F.2d 472 (1st Cir. 1960).
  • Harassing the witness - Alford v. United States, 282 U.S. 687, 51 S.Ct. 218, (1931).

Form of the question – Evidence Rule 611.

  • Ambiguous - Boyd v. University of Maryland Medical System, 173 F.R.D. 143, 38 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1030 (1997).
  • Argumentative –  Boyd
  • Asked and answered - Boyd
  • Assumes a fact not in evidence – ER 103.  McCormick on Evidence § 7 (4th ed. 1992). Ramirez v. State, 815 S.W.2d 636 (1991)
  • Compound - Cook v. State, 734 N.E.2d 563 (2000)
  • Confusing or unintelligible - St. Luke's Episcopal Hosp. v. Garcia, 928 S.W.2d 307, 309 (1996).
  • Improper hypothetical - Friese v. Mallon, 940 S.W.2d 37 (Mo.App. E.D. 1997)
  • Leading - U.S. v. DeFiore, 720 F.2d 757, (2nd Cir.(N.Y.)1983).
  • Misquotes a witness or exhibit - St. Luke's Episcopal Hosp. v. Garcia, 928 S.W.2d 307, 309 (1996).
  • Overly broad - Boyd v. University of Maryland Medical System, 173 F.R.D. 143, 38 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1030 (1997).
  • Calls for speculation – State v. McDonald, 98 Wn.2d 521, 656 P.2d 1043 (1983); Kirk v. Union Pacific R.R., 514 N.W.2d 734 (, 1994) (Accident reconstructionist excluded from testifying due to conjecture and speculation not helpful to jury),

Testimony/Exhibits

  • Lack of authentication – Evidence Rule 901
  • Collateral Matter – Evidence Rule 403
  • Cumulative – Evidence Rule 403.
  • Irrelevant – Evidence Rule 401 and 402
  • Incompetent - U. S. v. Frazier, 584 F.2d 790 (6th Cir. 1978)
  • Nonresponsive answer - U.S. v. Carr, 5 F.3d 986 (6th Cir. 1993)
  • Lack of foundation - Stouffer v. Reynolds, 168 F.3d 1155, 1999 CJ C.A.R. 601 (10th Cir.1999)
  • Hearsay – Evidence Rule 801

(Note:  This list was excerpted from the jury trial section of the WSBA Motor Vehicle Accident Deskbook (c) 2009, that I wrote).