GPSolo April/May 2007
Trial Objections Handbook, Second Edition
By Roger C. Park
Evidence, at best, is a confusing subject for law students. It is a world with which most students are not familiar. Being given a set of rules about how to behave in this mythical environment is all the more complicated because there is no context until one has had the experience of going to court and observing or participating in trials. Most of my knowledge of evidence came from television. The frequently shouted objection “Hearsay!” had an impressive but unintelligible meaning. The law school explanation, “An out-of-court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted,” did not do much to clarify what this was all about. In addition, the numerous exceptions (excited utterance—how excited does one have to be?) just made matters worse. This topic was also my worst course in law school. The professor held us in deep disdain and had little tolerance for our lack of understanding.
So, you can only imagine my joy when a huge loose-leaf binder containing Trial Objections Handbook, Second Edition by Roger C. Park (West Publishing, 2001, $230) arrived for my review, with every objection I had ever heard of and others that were new to me. The book is extremely well organized, and each section is removable for slipping into a briefcase. The first booklet is called Quick Reference Guide to Trial Objections and is an alphabetically organized cheat sheet with headings called “Objections to Trial Testimony,” “Objections to Expert Testimony,” “Objections to Hearsay,” “Hearsay Exceptions,” “Objections to Summation or Statement by Counsel,” and “Related Issues.”
Each subtopic is then expanded upon in the next section of the Quick Reference Guide. For example “Asked and Answered” explains that there are two meanings to this objection—one being that the objection has been waived by the attorney because the opponent did not object until after the witness had answered, and the other being an objection to a question because it is repetitive. Each explanation includes references to other parts of the book and also to the Federal Rules of Evidence. However, here is the best part: There are examples of trial testimony that show how to make the objection.
In Massachusetts, we have always clutched our Thomas Mauet’s Trial Techniques to prepare for any trial. The Trial Objections Handbook, however, includes some illustrations along with extensive explanations of the rules and anno-tations. The annotations include Westlaw databases (AmJur), text references, and A.L.R.s. Keep in mind that this book is not state specific, but it provides an excellent grounding for those of us who did not quite “get it” in law school.
The Trial Objections Handbook itself is another book within the book. It has 12 chapters, including “Procedure for Objections,” “Relevancy and Its Limits,” “Competency,” and “The Hearsay Rule and Its Exceptions.” There are three tables at the end, including “Table of Laws and Rules,” which includes citations to state laws, “Table of Cases” (in alphabetical order covering numerous jurisdictions), and “Table of Authorities” with references to books. Finally, there is a very good index at the back, and a Supplement near the front. It would be nice if there were a listing of important cases by state in the “Table of Cases” section, but asking for more might be overly greedy. Each chapter is also easily removable for carrying as a guide.
The Trial Objections Handbook is certainly not the sort of book that most lawyers would sit down and read from beginning to end, but it is an excellent guide for practitioners at any stage who want to hone their knowledge of evidence. The information is presented in an extremely useful format, and the Supplement was issued in December 2006, so it is current. I can easily recommend this book as a useful addition to your legal library.
Note: West Group is a corporate sponsor of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division; this article appears in connection with the Division’s sponsorship agreement with West Group. Neither the ABA nor ABA entities endorse non-ABA products or services, and this review should not be so construed.