COACHING FROM COUNSEL’S TABLE
June 20, 2012 § 1 Comment
Atty 1: Can you tell the court why you did not call the police right away when you say that he hit you and knocked you down?
Atty 2: Objection. The witness could not have called because her husband had broken the telephone before he hit her.
That, my friends, is a speaking objection. It’s a pernicious, baleful, noxious thing, odious to judges. So what exactly is the big problem with speaking objections? Let’s look at what predictably happens next in that trial we started above …
Judge: Objection is overruled.
Atty 1: Judge says you can answer my question.
Witness: Well, I could not call because my husband had broken the telephone before he hit me.
How could one expect a different answer after her attorney told her what to say?
One of the most important functions of a chancellor is to weigh the credibility of witnesses and to determine the weight to give to their testimony. I think most chancery judges, if not all, would assign that witness’s testimony on that point almost no weight at all because it was not her testimony.
I have had to caution counsel not to make speaking objections and to limit any comment on objections to legal bases (e.g., hearsay, irrelevant, compound question, etc.).
Speaking objections actually do your case more harm than good.