I was watching a new lawyer try a case to the court (without a jury) recently and I made the following observations.
Don’t forget to move to exclude witnesses.You don’t want them testifying on what they just heard in court rather than their independent recollections. Memory is fragile and easily influenced.
Character Evidence: Even if you know it’s relevant for some other non-propensity purpose (such as in a family law trial) remember to object and make them state the purpose. Otherwise, on appeal, the court can use it for whatever they want. If it’s a jury trial, get a limiting instruction (and litigate in advance).
Questions in aid of an objection: For example, if they are identifying and offering a piece of paper relevant to someone’s state of mind, ask a question in aid of an objection (i.e., “Did you see this document prior to X?”). If no, object as irrelevant and hearsay.
Hearsay: Make your record. Even if you know that the witness is testifying to an out-of-court statement to prove state of mind, still object. If you don’t, the out-of-court statement just came in substantively rather than its effect on the listener.
You don’t object to answers. You move to strike them.
Protect your record and save money on attorney fees from wasted time: When they keep talking, object (or move to strike) as non-responsive and ask the court to instruct the witness to answer the question.
“Law is War” Podcast Episode 2: Trial Objections – How to Train a Witness
For more information on the strategy of objections, watch Mike Arnold and Lissa Casey’s podcast, “Law is War,” Episode 2.
Arnold Law represents clients along the Oregon Coast and throughout Western Oregon, including in Portland, Eugene, Springfield, Salem, Corvallis, Cottage Grove, Albany, Newport, Oregon City, Beaverton, Clackamas, Wilsonville, Tigard, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Coburg, Creswell, Florence, Junction City, Lowell, Veneta, Oakridge, Roseburg, Brownsville, Halsey, Harrisburg Klamath Falls, Medford, Ashland, Grants Pass, Glendale, and Bend, and in the following counties: Lane County, Multnomah County, Washington County, Clackamas County, Linn County, Douglas County, Marion County, Coos County, Lincoln County, Benton County, Deschutes County, Josephine County, Klamath County, and Jackson County.