§ 6.15 Key Points

JurisdictionNorth Carolina
§ 6.15 Key Points

Objections. The objection requirement serves two purposes. First, the objection alerts the trial judge to the nature of the claim of error, thus facilitating a ruling on the objection. Second, an objection affords opposing counsel an opportunity to take corrective measures. In response to an objection, for instance, opposing counsel might be able to rephrase the question in unobjectionable terms or withdraw the question and present unobjectionable evidence through another witness.

Failure to make a timely and specific objection forfeits the right to raise the issue on appeal. Another consequence of failing to object is that the admitted evidence becomes part of the trial record and may be considered by (1) the jury in its deliberations, (2) the trial court in ruling on motions (i.e., directed verdicts), and (3) a reviewing court determining the sufficiency of the evidence.

Specific objections. Rule 103 requires specific objections, i.e., a statement of the grounds upon which the objection is based. For instance, "objection, hearsay" is a specific objection. In contrast, an objection that is not sufficiently specific is called a general objection. Statements such as "I object," "Objection, inadmissible," and "Objection, incompetent" are general objections that do not highlight the issue for the trial judge. There are exceptions to the objection requirement in the case of plain error and when the nature of the objection is apparent from the record.

Motions to strike. A motion to strike is used when a witness answers before counsel can object, or when a question's tendency to elicit an objectionable response does not become apparent until the response is given. If a motion to strike is granted, the court should instruct the jury to disregard the evidence. Even though the jury has heard the answer, the lawyer should ask the trial judge to strike the response because such a ruling precludes opposing counsel from referring to the stricken material in closing argument.

Offers of proof. When evidence has been excluded by the trial court, Rule 103(a)(2) requires an offer of proof to preserve the issue for appeal. Without an offer of proof in the trial record, an appellate court cannot determine whether or not the action of the trial court was erroroneous. An offer is not required if there is plain error, or when the content of the offer is apparent from the record.

Form of offer of proof. An offer of proof may take several forms. First, an offer...

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