A lawyer can shout "objection!" whenever another lawyer says something he does not agree with.
Quick, ask someone to pretend they are a lawyer! 90% of the time, they will bang the table and shout "Objection!"
We've seen lawyers do it on television and movies all the time. This common phrase is probably the most popular bit of 'courtroom jargon' that most people know, most likely because of how simple yet dramatic it is - as exemplified by the Ace Attorney series.
But does this really happen in real life? Do Malaysian lawyers really yell "Objection" whenever they hear something they don't like? And does it always work?
As you can probably guess, Jim Carrey's character (from the 1996 movie Liar Liar) won't be allowed to make an objection like that in a real courtroom. While lawyers are allowed to shout "Objection!" (or "BANTAHAN!" in Malay proceedings, and preferably in the most respectable manner possible), there are rules dictating how and when it can be used.
According to lawyer Fahri Azzat, one needs a basis (reason) on which to object. In practice, objections are usually raised in two situations, namely:
i) Against questions asked to witnesses - If they were unfair, inadmissible, or the witness wouldn't know the answer
ii) Against evidence tendered (presented) to court, if it was inadmissible for any reason.
Lawyers have to rise to their feet to object, and in the first category, usually only object after a question is completed. This is so the court can appreciate it's objectionable quality - basically deciding whether it can be objected to or not (which would be hard if the question was incomplete).
"Occasionally, we also object if the early part of the question reveals its objectionable quality. For example, I objected when someone started a question with 'In your opinion...'
Why? Because a witness' opinion is irrelevant. He is only to testify about what he saw, heard, felt, smelled, and touched. Only an expert can share his opinion in court.
You should object at the earliest reasonable moment. You also should not object after a question is answered. That's too late already. You can't put back a fired bullet." - lawyer Fahri Azzat, in an interview with AskLegal.
There are no formal rules or legislation dictating how 'OBJECTION!" can be used, although some practicing firms have a manual of sorts guiding how it can be used. There are many, many many kinds of legal objections, which include:
Asked and Answered - This is if a question being brought up has already been asked and answered.
Assuming Facts not in Evidence - This happens when the questioner brings up something the witness has not testified about.
Badgering the Witness - When the lawyer is not being civil with the witness. If the questioner is asking questions in a hostile manner, or harassing the witness, they are likely badgering the witness.
Leading the witness - This occurs when the questioner suggests answers during the direct questioning of a witness. During cross examination, this objection does not apply.
Misstating the Law - A lawyer is stating the law incorrectly.
Note that this list is not exhaustive, and some of the categories can overlap. A longer list of objections can be found here and, while they have been written for American courts, most of them are also relevant in Malaysia.
Looking forward to the Phoenix Wright memes in the comments.
Note: This answer is based on the legal perspective rather than individual cases. If you come across any rumors or have any questions about how the law works, let us know on our Facebook page or click here to send an email.