LAY OPINION TESTIMONY SOMETIMES LAYS AN EGG

September 7, 2010 § 3 Comments

Some lawyers argue that lay opinion testimony should be strictly proscribed as not helpful to the court and an invasion of the court’s fact-finding province.  Others attorneys respond that those concerns are overblown and that the court can filter out any ill effects.  Here is a rough transcript of an exchange that happened in my courtroom recently.  Judge for yourself:

Q:   Now, you said a moment ago that you plan to file for bankruptcy.  Do you know what effect bankruptcy will have on your income?

Opposing counsel:   Objection.  He can’t possibly know what effect bankruptcy would have on his income.  He is not an expert.

Counsel:   But, judge, he can state his understanding based on what he trying to accomplish by filing bankruptcy.

Court:  I believe that any ordinary person with walking-around sense would know what effect bankruptcy would have on their income.  I will overrule the objection.  Repeat the question for the witness, please.

Q:    Do you know what effect bankruptcy will have on your income?

A:   No.  

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§ 3 Responses to LAY OPINION TESTIMONY SOMETIMES LAYS AN EGG

  • Allyson says:

    Judge McKenzie…I think my brain just exploded.

  • Frank McKenzie says:

    How about this question asked by a lawyer:

    Q. Mr Williamson, I believe, asked you about, he asked you a question that you felt like that you, for the whole period of this time, I’m talking about up until 1997 or 8, or’98, when Mrs. West stopped things, that you felt like you were obligated to more compensation, or a certain amount of compensation for what you did. And my question to you is this: you said you felt like you hadn’t been. But my question is, you didn’t really file this lawsuit did you?

    A. No, sir.

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