List of Trial Objections

Before heading into trial, review this list of trial objections. And keep it handy during trial.

Objections to Competency of Witness

  • Unable to express and be understood (Evid C §701)
  • Unable to understand duty to tell truth (Evid C §701)
  • Judge at this trial (Evid C §703)
  • Juror at this trial (Evid C §704)
  • Without personal knowledge (Evid C §702)
  • Officer not in distinctive uniform when arrest made (Veh C §40804)

Objections to the Form of Question (Evid C §765, unless otherwise indicated)

  • Ambiguous, confusing, unintelligible
  • Argumentative
  • Already asked and answered
  • Assumes fact in dispute or not in evidence
  • Compound
  • Leading (Evid C §767)
  • Misquotes witness
  • Calls for narrative answer
  • Calls for speculation, e.g., not in witness’s personal knowledge (Evid C §§702, 801)
  • Too general

Objections to Foundation of Offered Evidence

  • Lacks authentication
  • Inadmissible secondary evidence (see Evid C §§1520-1567)
  • Corpus delicti not proven
  • Expert:
    • Not qualified (Evid C §720(a))
    • Basing opinion on improper matter (Evid C §801)
  • Foundation insufficient (Evid C §§403, 405)
  • Illegally obtained (US Const amends IV, XIV; Cal Const art 1, §13)

Objections to Substance of Offered Evidence

  • Altered document (Evid C §1402)
  • Communication made during mediation process (Evid C §§1115-1128)
  • Cross-examination exceeds scope (Evid C §§761, 773)
  • Excludable in court’s discretion (Evid C §352)
  • Expert:
    • Basing opinion on improper matter (Evid C §801)
    • Testifying on improper matter (Evid C §801)
  • Expression of sympathy or benevolence (Evid C §1160)
  • Hearsay (Evid C §1200)
  • Immigration status (Evid C §§351.2-351.3)
  • Improper impeachment (Evid C §§780, 785)
  • Improper rehabilitation (Evid C §§780, 785)
  • Irrelevant (Evid C §§210, 350-351)
  • Opinion inadmissible (Evid C §§800, 802-803)
  • Regarding liability insurance (Evid C §1155)
  • Prior inconsistent statement of excused witness (Evid C §770)
  • Privileged (see Privilege and Related Objections, below)
  • Recollection refreshed by unproduced writing (Evid C §771(a))
  • Settlement negotiations inadmissible (Evid C §§1152-1154)
  • Subsequent safety measures inadmissible (Evid C §1151)
  • Unduly confusing or time-consuming (Evid C §352)
  • Unduly prejudicial or inflammatory (Evid C §352)
  • Violates parol evidence rule (CCP §1856; Com C §2201)

Privilege and Related Objections

  • Self-incrimination (Evid C §940)
  • Attorney-client privilege (Evid C §§950-954)
  • Marital privileges (Evid C §§970-980)
  • Physician-patient privilege (Evid C §992)
  • Psychotherapist-patient privilege (Evid C §§1012, 1024 (dangerous patient exception))
  • Clergy-penitent privilege (Evid C §§1030-1034)
  • Sexual assault victim-counselor privilege (Evid C §1035.4)
  • Domestic violence victim-counselor privilege (Evid C §1037.2)
  • Official informer (Evid C §1042)
  • Political vote (Evid C §1050)
  • Trade secret (Evid C §1060)
  • Reporter’s unpublished information (Evid C §1070)
  • Attorney work product (CCP §§2018.010-2018.080)

Objections to Conduct of Counsel

  • Bringing inadmissible matter before jury
  • Asking insinuating and improper questions
  • Concealing or suppressing evidence
  • Making impermissible references to insurance
  • Making derogatory remarks to counsel, party, or witness
  • Communicating with juror
  • Misstating law

Objections to Conduct of Judge (Canon 3 of the California Code of Judicial Ethics)

  • Commenting on evidence
  • Examining witness to convey opinion of witness’s credibility
  • Disparaging counsel, party, or witness
  • Coercing compliance with personal preferences
  • Interfering with production of proof

Objections to Conduct of Jury (see CCP §§232-234, 611, 613, 1209)

  • Concealing relevant matters during voir dire
  • Receiving or disseminating evidence out of court, including via all forms of electronic and wireless communication
  • Inattentiveness during trial

All objections are not created equal. Many objections that focus on the defects of the question (compound question, vague, unintelligible, and ambiguous) should be used sparingly. Generally, if this type of objection is sustained, it will prompt superior follow-up questions and only assist the examiner in proving his or her point. Focus on objections that seek to exclude the answers to questions (foundation, hearsay, settlement, attorney-client privilege, and improper expert opinion) when the potential answers could damage your case.

Get details on each of these objections in CEB’s California Trial Objections. And make sure to bring CEB’s annotated Evidence Code, Trial Attorney’s Evidence Code Notebook, to trial.

Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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