20 February 2012

Objection Cheat Sheet

Sometimes you just run into something cool that you have to share. Mark walked past the prosecutor's desk and saw a cheat sheet for young prosecutors. I looked at it and thought maybe we should tape this to the desks we have in various courtrooms. That way we could all look down and scan quickly for the proper objection or maybe throw dice to choose.

Of course, we'd have to change some things. Since we don't yet have rules of evidence there is no "403" in Virginia, we'd have to replace it with "Overly Prejudicial." And, I'm pretty sure "Side Bar" isn't an objection (at least it's not in Virginia); so, I'd probably take it off the chart. I've only once heard a narrative objection, so I wouldn't put it in such a prominent place. Finally, I can't say I'm certain what "Improper Voir Dire: Expert Opinion" means exactly. Everything that I can think of falls under "Improper Commitment" (asking Jury to prejudge evidence), "Going Into the Facts of the Case", and "Argument."

Of course, now that the General Assembly has made certain that it has the final say on evidentiary rules, it looks like we are going to have brand new Rules of Evidence in Virginia (say goodbye to common law evidence and our friend Friend). So it might not just be brand new lawyers who need a sheet to tell them what objections are appropriate. Soon, everybody in Virginia will need an evidentiary cheat sheet.

1 comment:

Mark Bennett said...

Unlike in California (and, perhaps, the rest of the world) "sidebar" in Texas is not when lawyers approach the bench, but rather when a lawyer makes some comment directly to the jury outside of opening or closing argument.

I had to inquire about "Improper Voir Dire: Expert Opinion." I was told that it is used when a lawyer asks some expert on the jury panel (for example, an MD) for an opinion on some issue in the case.

"403" covers not only undue prejudice, but also "confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence." Or, as Terry MacCarthy says, "Objection, your honor. Rule 403: Boring."