#2: Rules of Evidence

By Charlotte Combe

What is an objection?

An objection is something that opposing council calls make during direct and cross examinations.

Objections are designed to keep unfair testimony from being entered into the record and into evidence. Objections help to control what evidence the jury can use to reach a verdict.

Testimony can be unfair for a multitude of reasons. There are many different types of objections you can make all with their own specific qualifications. These are found in The Federal Rules of Evidence.

What are the Federal Rules of Evidence?

The Federal Rules of Evidence are where all of the different objections an attorney can make are compiled in numerical order. 

Attorneys will refer to objections or exceptions to objections through where they can be found in the Federal Rules of Evidence.

The Federal Rules of Evidence for mock trial can change and be different from state to state.

How do you make an Objection?

When you hear testimony from either the lawyer or witness that is objectionable, confidently stand up and assertively say “objection, your honor” followed by the name of the objection you are giving.

Example: “Objection your honor. Improper character evidence.”

What happens when you make an objection?

After you make an objection, the judge will usually ask for a response from your opposing counsel. Based on the response of opposing counsel, the judge can do one of three things:

Sustain the objection- meaning the evidence is kept out
Overrule the objection- meaning the testimony admissible
Ask you for a further response- meaning that you should respond to opposing counsel and argue for why the evidence is inadmissible

Why make an objection in Mock Trial?

In mock trial, making objections communicates to the jury that you can think on the spot and are listening to opposing counsel. Objections are a great way to score extra points. 

Objections can keep out important evidence that the opposing side may need to build their case theory (we’ll explain what case theory means more in future posts!).

Objections can also take up the limited amount of time opposing council has to conduct a direct or cross examination, which also helps in ensuring they won’t have time to bring in all of their evidence.

Common Objections

In mock trial, there are a handful of objections that come handy in almost every round. Some of the most helpful objections and their corresponding ‘rule number’ are found below. 

Hearsay- 801
Relevance- 401
Lack of Foundation- 602, 701, 702
Improper Character Evidence- 404

*We’ll get more into the specifics of each of these objections in later posts in the series!*

Glossary

Testimony- statements that the witnesses make during a round
Qualifications- in this context, qualifications refer to a set of criteria that must be proved in order for and objection to be sustained
Admissible- when evidence is not found to violate the rule brought up during an objection, and is kept as information in the record