Kaitlyn’s Mock Trial Tip of the Day (KMTTotD)
Today, I have decided that I am going to detail a few of the key phrases that pop up in competition (or practice). A few of them, you’ve probably heard of, others might be entirely obscure. All of them are likely to be useful at some point or another.
The Classic: “Your Honor…”
Things happen in court. Witnesses lie, lawyers object, grizzly bears attack (maybe not that last one as much…). When situations arise in the court that cannot be handled by questioning the witness, you always address the jusge. And the judge is always addressed as “Your Honor”. And always while you are standing. Only lawyers are allowed to address the judge, but they do have to address the judge very frequently: on every objection, for every piece of evidence, before starting every part of the trial, and more. Every once in a while, you will see lawyers who ignore the traditional formalities; if you want to look professional, you should ignore their example. In real life, judges demand that respect. In Mock Trial, the lawyers judging you know that a real judge will demand that respect, and thus often dock points.
The Argument: “Objection!”
Objections are interesting and very useful things. Common usage on television shows and other popular media give off a slightly false version of what an objection is. In Mock Trial, every objection must be founded on a specific part of the Rules of Evidence, or a part of the American Mock Trial Association’s rules. So, usually, “Objection!” is followed very quickly with “Hearsay!” or “Improper Opinion!” or “Expert qualifications were not established” or any of many other key phrases that occur in the official AMTA Rules of Evidence. We’ll work with those Rules of Evidence so much later that your heads wll spin with numbers. We don’t need to start that process just quite yet.
The Leader: “…correct?” or “…right?”
These are the key endings to make a statement into a leading question. For example, “You ate fifteen steaks” + “…correct?” = “You ate fifteen steaks, correct?”, which is, of course, a debilitating attack on the skinny witness who claims to a vegetarian. These endings allow you to tell the witness exactly the answer you expect, but still making it seem as if they have a choice. Once you settle into your cross examination, you can drop these endings for clarity, smoothness, and power reasons, but your first few cross examination questions should always have one of these taglines.