Trial Transcript: New Prosecutor Struggles With Basics of Direct Examination

Jamison KoehlerTrial Advocacy

A: It is a photograph of the bottle that was thrown through the window.

Q: How did you find that bottle?

A: I didn’t find the bottle. The policeman found the bottle.

THE COURT: So she didn’t find the bottle. It seems that you put facts in your question that aren’t in evidence. Did you want to rephrase the question?

PROSECUTOR: Permission to rephrase.

THE COURT: That would be a good thing.

Q: Do you know how the bottle entered that room?

A: Through the window.


THE COURT: Just a second. Knowledge is something that one gets from hearsay. In other words, if you want to ask her whether she saw it with her own eyes that would be a different matter, but it’s not something she can testify about if somebody else told her.


Q: Did you see that bottle come through the window?

A: No.

Q: Is that the bottle that entered through the window?


THE COURT: So you’re asking her a question that she’s not competent to answer, because she doesn’t have a basis of knowledge, so I sustain the objection.


Q: Was that bottle in your room, was that your bottle?

A: No.

Q: Was that bottle in your room at 9:00 in the morning?

A: No.

Q: Was the window pane unbroken that morning?

A: Are you asking me was it broken? No, it was not broken that morning.

Q: And it was broken is what startled and awoke you, is that correct?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Objection. Leading.

THE COURT: Sustained.

. . . Q: Ms. Jones, how sure are you that you saw the defendant after the bottle came through the window?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Objection, Your Honor.


DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It hasn’t been established that that was what through the window.

THE COURT: Oh, all right. And so are you understanding the basis for his objection?

PROSECUTOR: Not entirely, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Well, she didn’t see a bottle come through the window, so stop putting that in your question. There’s a bottle some place in her place that she’s just identified. There’s a broken window that startled her. But don’t put into questions things that she did not see and hasn’t testified to.

PROSECUTOR: Well, I believe –

THE COURT: So I’m sustaining that objection.