If there is one thing we loathe, and we mean really despise, it’s the exasperating “Objection!” television lawyers make unaccompanied by any other statement clarifying the basis of the objection. Television lawyers seem to believe that if they merely yell the word “Objection!” with some exaggerated sense of annoyance, disdain, or self-righteous outrage, then the television judge, impressed by the level of indignation apparent from the face and voice of the objecting attorney, must therefore rule on his or her behalf. However, we all know that such objections are rubbish, as they do not preserve any error whatsoever on appeal. But screenwriters don’t know that, and accordingly, the world is a terrible place indeed.
Sure, sure, we understand that television lawyers play by a different set of rules than do real litigators. In that simplified world of television courtroom drama, trials are quick and easy, closing statements last only two minutes, and lawyers speechify beyond belief. But, we believe that these irksome television objections occur so often, so frequently, that they must be stopped, and we here at Abnormal Use have got to stop them.
Accordingly, we now call upon Hollywood screenwriters to write follow up justifications for all objecting television lawyers. These follow up clarifications can be short and quick so as to not disrupt the narrative flow of the television program. For example, a lawyer can “Objection, hearsay!” or “Objection, badgering the witness!” or even, for the sake of the old school practitioners, “Objection, res gestae!” Sure, these objections may be just as deficient as the use of the single word, but at least it would be some type of improvement from one we typically see on such programs. Let’s at least make these objecting television lawyers seem somewhat competent, eh? Perhaps the most ambitious among those screenwriters will instruct their characters to offer even more substantive objections, citing rules, cases, or courtroom custom. Then, perhaps, we at Abnormal Use could once again watch legal dramas withour frustration.
(As an aside, we must share a remark made by our evidence professor many years ago indicating that only television lawyers say “Objection, ask and answered” and that the proper objection for practicing litigators is “Objection, repetitious.”)
In fact, we’d also like to see television judges do a bit more than respond with single words, as well. On many shows, you will only hear the judge say “Sustained!” or “Denied!” If you are lucky, maybe the judge will say something like “I’ll allow it” or “Move along, counselor,” but that’s it. Come on, television judges! Apparently in the Hollywood legal television program Mad Libs employed by screenwriters, that’s about all they can permit a judge to say on screen. We can do better!