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The Three Most Common Objections You'll Hear In Court And How To Handle Them

Law Blog

If you're about to give testimony in a court case or deposition during a lawsuit, you're bound to hear attorneys on both sides raise objections at times while you are trying to testify. Some objections are more common than others. These are the most common objections you are likely to hear, and how to respond when one is raised.

The Most Common Objections You Will Hear

When you are testifying, the most common objections that you'll hear are the following:

1.) Hearsay

When an attorney objects to something you're saying as "hearsay," he or she is saying that the evidence you're giving is secondhand information.

For example, if you respond to a question about how your spouse was physically feeling after a car accident by saying, "He said he was really shaken up and his neck hurt," that's secondhand information, or "hearsay." A way around this is to rephrase your statement so that you are describing only your own observations.

For example, you could say, "His hands were shaking and he kept touching the back of his neck and wincing." Not only does this avoid the problem of hearsay, it actually gives a more vivid picture of what they experienced following the car accident.

2.) Leading

When an attorney says that a question is "leading," he or she is objecting to the way the question is phrased. These objections typically happen when your own attorney (or the attorney for the side on whose behalf you're testifying) is asking a question. The other attorney is essentially saying that you're being "fed" the answer that your attorney wants to hear via the actual question.

For example, if your attorney says, "You knew that your spouse was injured because he was moaning and holding his neck after the accident, right?" that's considered leading.

If the opposing attorney raises this objection, just stop talking and wait. Your attorney will probably rephrase the question so that it sounds more like, "What was your spouse doing after the accident that made you believe he was injured?" Then, you can proceed with your testimony.

3.) Irrelevant

Irrelevant testimony and questions are those that don't really help move the legal proceedings forward or could confuse the issue at hand.

For example, if you're asked about your spouse's driving history after he's been involved in a car accident, relevant information would include things like how he's been driving for 20 years, he's never had a speeding ticket, and this is the first accident he's ever had.

Irrelevant information would be things like how he always babied his car and hand washed it every Saturday. That sort of information doesn't have anything to do with the accident he was in, so you would be stopped from continuing. Essentially, in those situations, the attorney is just saying that you've wandered off-topic.

To handle this situation, refocus your answers onto the questions being asked and try to keep your answers as short and clear as possible. That will help the case move along more smoothly. It'll also help keep juror's minds from wandering.

Any time an attorney raises an objection, stop talking until you find out if the objection is sustained or denied. If it's denied, you can continue talking as soon as the attorney asking the question tells you to do so, without changing what you are saying. If the objection is sustained, you'll need to be attentive to the issue at hand and respond accordingly. For more guidance, talk with an attorney like those at Seiler & Parker PC for help.


29 April 2015