Hi, this is Dave Ward from The Ward Law Firm and this is video number two in our series on, what you can expect when going into court and what to do when you're testifying. One of the things that can be confusing for people is what happens when the lawyers start objecting to things. What am I supposed to do? How do I handle that?

If you've ever watched a trial on tv one of the few things that they actually do get right is things will happen over the course of the trial and usually one of the attorneys at some point is going to say the word “objection”. If you're testifying and whether it's your attorney or the other attorney and they say the word objection, what's important to know is just stop talking. Don't try to finish your answer. Don't try to overtalk the attorney, just stop.

One of a couple of different things is going to happen, now the first example is a situation where everybody knows what the objection is. Everybody knows why it's being made and everybody knows what the law is and what the judge should rule with regard to that objection. In those cases a judge will either say overruled, meaning that it was not a good legal objection or they will say sustained, that means that it is a valid legal objection and that a new question has to be asked.

Now sometimes the issue with the objection is something related to how the question is asked. Other times it has to relate to what is expected to come out as an answer to the question. So depending on the situation it may just be a matter of rephrasing a question, other circumstances it may be the person has to go onto something totally different. The second situation that we can run into is a situation where person says “objection”, the judge will stop the person testifying and  say, ”okay, person objecting why do you think that this is objectionable?” and that person will tell the court, well judge, I think it's objectionable because of whatever the legal reason is, perhaps it calls for hearsay.

Then the judge will look to the other party or that party's attorney and say, ”okay, why do you think this is allowed?” and that person can make their argument about why it is the court should allow the person to answer that question and it could be something like for example, ”well judge it is Hearsay but it falls into this exception”, and sometimes there's a little going back and forth with the judge about that, but eventually the judge is going to reach a determination as to how to handle that objection. And again, is either going to say sustained, meaning that it was a valid legal objection or that it was overruled, in which case it was not a valid legal objection. In a situation where the court sustains the objection as I said, that means the person has to move on. If the court says overruled, you're allowed to continue answering.

Now sometimes, what can happen is the judge and the lawyers or the judge and the parties are going back and forth for so long the person testifying forgets what the question is all together. In those circumstances it's perfectly okay to ask the person to repeat what the question was. You're not required to guess at your peril what the question was if you don't remember what it is. So remember if you hear the word “objection”, just stop talking. Let the judge handle the arguments between either the parties or the attorneys and the judge will tell you what to do and what I usually tell people to remember is that S means stop and O means go.

So if they sustained, stop talking. If they say overruled, you can go ahead and continue to answer. I'm Dave Ward with The Ward Law Firm and we help parents protect those things that matter most.