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Common Objections

Objections usually fall into two categories: substantive and style. Style objections often arise when the question is presented in a wrong fashion or manner. Substantive objections focus on a violation of the rules of evidence. Because there are only so many possible objections (even though an attorney might not use the common name for each one), by having a list of them, you can be prepared ahead of time to know what rule, if any, you need to focus on.

Substantive Objections

Hearsay: Rules 801, 802, 803, 804. Is it hearsay: an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. If it is hearsay, does it fall under an exception under 803 or 804?

Prejudicial: This is based on Rule 403, which states that if something is more prejudicial than it is probative, then it should not come in. Which weighs more: the usefulness of the evidence or its hurtfulness to the opposing party?

Cumulative: This is based on Rule 403. The evidence might be useful, but has there already been so much evidence presented on that issue that any more evidence is just wasting time at this point?

Confusing or Misleading: This is based on Rule 403. The evidence might be useful, but at the same time it would also just confuse the jury.

Irrelevant: Rule 401 defines relevant as “evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.” Rule 402 says we need to keep out evidence that is not relevant.

Lack of personal knowledge: Rule 602.

No foundation: This is usually a catch all objection. Are they objecting that something is irrelevant, or that something was not authenticated, or that the witness has no personal knowledge?

No authentication: Rule 901: must prove that the matter in question is what it claims to be. Check your pre-made list of examples: telephone call, surveillance video, jail mail, etc.

Improper Impeachment or Bolstering: Rule 608.

Completeness: Rule 106.

Best evidence: Rule 1002. It is always best to have the original document. However, it is ok to use a duplicate unless there is an issue of authenticity of the original, or it’s just unfair to admit the duplicate.

Style Objections


Asked and Answered


Calls for Narrative

Assumes Facts




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