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Making Objections in Litigation

Objections in General

Objections have other uses as well. Sometimes trial lawyers object to questions that are probably proper simply to send a message to the witness that the question is one of particular importance. The objection communicates to the witness that he or she needs to take extra care in formulating the answer. The objection gives the witness a couple of extra moments to do just that.

The proper time to make an objection is just as the other lawyer finishes asking the question. If the attorney waits until the question has been answered, the damage may have already been done. The attorney then can only object and move to strike the answer. This request asks the judge to instruct the jury to disregard the answer. Lawyers typically compare this to trying to unring the bell. It is an inadequate remedy that the lawyer hopes to avoid relying upon.

If the answer was so egregiously improper that it may unfairly influence the jury’s deliberations, the lawyer may ask the judge to declare a mistrial. If this request is granted (which rarely happens), the trial ends then and there. The parties then must decide if they want to resume settlement discussions or begin preparing for another trial with a new jury.

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