Trial Objections 101: Making and Responding to Objections

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How to Make and Respond to Objections at Trial

If you’ve ever watched a court scene on TV, you've probably seen lots of sensationalized, over-the-top Hollywood-style objections. In real court, making objections should never be a matter of entertainment. Objections — when used correctly — have significant strategic importance in trial litigation.

Tutorial Preview

If you are:

  • Representing yourself in court (“pro se” or “pro per”); or
  • A new attorney with minimal or no trial experience; and

Your case is going to trial…

You’ll need to learn how to appropriately make (and respond to) objections — and, more importantly — how to identify when a question or testimony is objectionable (so you can get a sense of when you should object).

In Trial Objections 101: Making and Responding to Objections, litigation attorneys Neer Lerner and Elliott Malone provide you with the essentials of courtroom objections — and show you how to begin preparing for objections well before trial — so you can make and respond to objections with confidence, knowledge, and adequate preparation.

Below is a sample of what you will learn in Trial Objections 101, a video tutorial geared toward both self-represented parties (“pro se” or “pro per”) and attorneys with limited or no litigation experience.

Objection Basics

Hollywood has one thing right: objections are an essential component of trial. Parties in a lawsuit make objections at trial to prevent their opponents from introducing or eliciting improper evidence (like testimony) — or to exclude inadmissible or improper testimony by a witness.

Failure to understand objections can destroy your case. The opposing attorney may try to prevent you from asking certain questions of witnesses — thereby making it difficult or impossible to get key facts accepted into evidence for the jury to see and consider in its deliberations.

In this video tutorial, you will learn vital information to help you become proficient in objection basics, including:

  • Working definitions of objection basics in simple language that cuts through the impenetrable fog of "Legalese";
  • Why mastering objections early (well before trial) is crucial for your case — especially if you ever need to appeal the trial judgment;
  • When you can make objections — and when it is best to keep silent — if you don't want to annoy the judge or jury;
  • How to state objections briefly (with examples) — so you can avoid being reprimanded by the judge;
  • When you should ask for a sidebar; how to make a motion to strike inadmissible testimony; what to do when you're not sure about the legal basis for objecting; and
  • Many additional tips and techniques to help you handle trial objections with confidence and competence so that you can present your best case to the court.

Objections: Diving Deep

The thought of making objections at trial may make you feel insecure or nervous. You may even be concerned about embarrassing yourself in front of the judge or jurors due to your lack of experience.

If you want to handle objections confidently, you need to gain specific knowledge of the objection process and understand the legal basis for making — or asking the court to overrule your opponent's — objections.

In this tutorial, you'll learn objection specifics, like:

  • Ways to respond to common objections made by your opponent;
  • The difference between form objections and substance objections — and how to rephrase your questions to prevent or overcome objections;
  • How to identify if opposing counsel is trying to intimidate, harass, or badger a witness — and how to object — with sample questions and courtroom dialogue to help internalize the concepts;
  • When leading questions are permitted, when they are objectionable, and how they differ from permissible, non-leading (open-ended) questions;
  • What to do if the judge sustains your opponent’s objection that your question lacks foundation;
  • How to overcome compound question objections raised by opposing counsel, deal with misleading or confusing questions, hearsay, unfair prejudice, speculation, improper character witness; and
  • Many additional tips, examples, sample courtroom trial objections and scenarios, and other relevant information — including a video simulation of a motion in limine — and more.

Plus, you'll receive a downloadable PDF reference guide, Fundamentals of Trial Objections, that complements the video tutorial, discusses the topics covered, and reinforces objection essentials that can help you state (and oppose your opponent’s) objections at trial.

Study Trial Objections 101 for practical insights into trial litigation and for a firm foundation to determine:

  1. When and how to object to inadmissible testimony by witnesses;
  2. How and when to object to improper questioning by opposing counsel; and
  3. How to rephrase your questions to get the testimony you need — even while facing constant objections from your opponent.

This course can prepare you to anticipate potential evidence issues, state objections appropriately, and handle potentially damaging testimony and evidence by your opponent — so you can be an effective courtroom advocate with a strong foundational understanding of evidence law.

For more information about evidence law, check out Introduction to Evidence and Trial Essentials.