Objection Capital is a new and somewhat complicated concept in Mock Trial. This is a skill that should only be used by expert Mock Trial teams. However, this skill doesn’t mean it can’t be applied to beginner teams, as well. It is one of the less important skills in Mock Trial but it is helpful when competing against other high-level teams.
What is Objection Capital and How is it Useful?
Objection Capital (noun) – The amount of useful objections you can make in a single Mock Trial round. The act of optimizing the use of objections in a case-in-chief.
Here are the reasons why Objection Capital is useful…
- Reduce Wasted Time – If you make repeated objections, it ends up wasting time for everyone. Judges get bored when they hear the same repeated objections being made.
- Boost Credibility – If you limit objections to parts of the trial where it makes sense (i.e. Powerful Evidence, Blatant Misuse of Rules of Evidence, etc.), you end showing that you know when it’s the right time to object and overall boosting your credibility as an attorney.
- Keeping Jurors Interested – Objections often make jurors and judges lose track of the trial. Jurors and judges often become bored when they hear the same objections or objections with low value. If you limit the amount of objections you make to where its necessary, you can keep the jurors and judges interested and on pace with the case-in-chief.
- Reduce the Chance of Error – You reduce the amount of times you can make an error. Objections can open a can of worms where you might make an error and decrease your overall credibility. Getting an objection wrong and overruled makes your team look less credible.
How to Implement Objection Capital
Only you and your team will know when it’s critical to make an objection and reduce useless objections. Look over your chase-in-chief, practice against other teams, and understand critical rules of evidence. Once you know the in’s and out’s of the Rules of Evidence, you will know where it’s a good time to make objections and argue your objection.
- Study the Rules of Evidence – This is the important and underrated concept in Mock Trial. You MUST study the in’s and out’s of the Rules of Evidence. The Rules of Evidence is where you can really advance your skills in Mock Trial. Judges and jurors look for teams that know their Rules of Evidence and see them as being more credible.
- Implement a Limit – If you place a limit per attorney, you can limit your objections. For example, each attorney can get 4 objections and emergency objections.
The Impeachment Process is the only way to kill witness credibility. However, not so many teams use it correctly and can often be hurdle themselves into the “improper impeachment” zone.
As an attorney, you MUST make sure that the witness has lied by re-asking the question with, “Is it your sworn testimony today that …?” and making sure they agree to their sworn testimony. I have seen too many attorneys make the mistake of not re-asking the question or re-asking the question but ignoring the witnesses new answer.
The Impeachment Process
- Is it your sworn testimony today that _____________?
- Ex: Is it your testimony that you didn’t speak with John?
- You gave a statement prior to todays trial, correct?
- Your honor, may I approach opposing counsel and the witness with this witness’ affidavit?
- This is your witness affidavit?
- And you had 24 hours to make any changes to it?
- Is it a fair and accurate copy?
- And this is your signature on the last page?
- Please read silently as I read aloud line #(s)
- Ex: Please read silently as I read aloud lines 30-35
- Did I read that correctly?
- Retrieve the document from the witness
- Ex: Your honor, permission to retrieve the document
Entering evidence can be challenging. However, in Mock Trial, evidence is crucial to adding more weight to your side of the case. The jury often needs some type of visual element to help them out. Therefore, evidence is a great way to help the jury visualize what’s going on in the case.
Approach Opposing Counsel and the Witness
- “Your honor, permission to approach opposing counsel and the witness with which has been pre-marked as Exhibit #”
- Ex: Your honor, permission to approach opposing counsel and the witness with which has been pre-marked as Exhibit 3
- Wait for Approval
- Show Opposing Counsel
- Ex: Let the record reflect that I am showing Opposing Counsel this document
- Give a copy to the witness
- Ask questions to lay foundation
- Direct Ex: “Are you familiar with this document?”
- Cross Ex: “This is the email document that you sent John, correct?”
- Ask the witness, “Is it a fair and accurate copy?”
Move Into Evidence
- Your honor, permission to move what has been premarked as Exhibit # into evidence as D# (Defense) or P# (Plaintiff/Prosecution)
- Ex: Your honor, permission to move what has been premarked as Exhibit 3 into evidence as D2
- Ex: Your honor, permission to move what has been premarked as Exhibit 2 into evidence as P4
- *The D# or P# is in sequential order when you move exhibits into evidence. For example, if you enter Exhibit 4 as D1, and the court accepts it, and you want to enter another exhibit later on, such as Exhibit 2 as D2, and Exhibit 6 as D3, etc.
- Wait for an Objection
- Wait for an Approval
- Publish to the Jury
- Ex: Your honor, permission to publish to the Jury?
- Give copies to the Jury
Use the Evidence
- Ask your questions on the document, obviously asking open-ended questions on Direct and leading questions on Cross.
- Remember to retrieve the document when you’re finished!
- Ex: Your honor, permission to retrieve the document