For those watching the George Zimmerman trial, you have heard Judge Debra Nelson state that she was not going to allow any speaking objections. She has made that statement numerous times each day. Several readers have asked me to explain what a speaking objection is, so I will explain in terms easy to understand.
A speaking objection is an objection where the lawyer speaks a complete thought in an effort to either a) provide additional information to the jury that they should not have b) aggravate opposing counsel c) give additional information to the judge that they want the judge to know or d) all of the above at the same time. More than likely, it is “d,” all of the above.
An objection is a lawyer’s way to prevent evidence or testimony from coming into a case that is not proper or not properly presented. Lawyers have ways of getting information into evidence for the jury to consider. However, if the evidence is not presented properly, then an objection should be made. Additionally, if the evidence is not allowable for the jury to consider then the lawyer can object to the evidence being admitted.
The proper way to object is for the attorney to say “Objection, based upon Rule____, “(he or she will state the rule which prevents the evidence from being entered). Or, the lawyer will state “Objection, hearsay, your honor.” Then the judge will either sustain or overrule. Sustained means the lawyer making the objection won the argument.
Overruled means the lawyer making the objection lost the argument.
A speaking abjection in the above reference would be “Objection, You Honor, Mr. O’meara is aware that Zimmerman changed his statement to the police twice” instead of the proper, “Objection Your Honor, Hearsay”
The speaking objection gives the jury additional information that they probably should not hear and provides the evidence in a case. It is quite common for lawyers to make speaking objections until the judge instructs them not to do so.
Eric L. Welch Guster is founder and managing attorney of Guster Law Firm in Birmingham, Ala., handling criminal and civil matters, catastrophic injuries, criminal defense, and civil rights litigation. Mr. Guster has become a go-to lawyer for the New York Times, NewsOne, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, Black America Web, and various radio programs about various court issues and high-profile cases.