Georgia Bar Journal, Vol. 6, No. 4 (February 2001), pp. 12-15+


Most attorneys try to sum up their cases in a fashion that comports with accepted law and local practice. All too frequently, however, one has the misfortune of running into Rambo, the over-the-top opponent. Before his peroration is concluded, Rambo has trampled on the law of trial practice by making half a dozen improper arguments. He urges evidence that never came up at trial. He injects hearsay into the proceedings. He adds his own opinions about which witnesses were lying and the legal fault of your client. And, this is just the beginning. Adding insult to injury, the unjust tactics often inure to Rambo's benefit. He wins the cases.

Applying antidotes to this sort of poison requires a checklist of argument"do's" and "don'ts." Unless counsel has the rules and perhaps some citations readily at hand, it is impossible to forge an effective objection strategy. Yet, only such a strategy has the potential to break an opponent's stream of improprieties. In addition to interrupting the outrageous opponent in a legally appropriate way, there is another advantage: The well-placed contemporaneous objection usually provides the single avenue for a successful appeal.

This article supplies the tools for the foregoing job. Common objections have been isolate for treatment and analysis. It is hoped that their inclusion will provide the needed ammunition the next time an overly dramatic opponent resorts to an improper tactic.