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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Document Speaks For Itself, But I Can't Hear It

You've all heard this one, "Objection, the document speaks for itself." But is it a legitimate objection? Not if it's being used to keep your witness from reading from a document already admitted into evidence. Remember, reading from a document in evidence is one way of publishing the evidence to the jury. After all, once admitted the jury is entitled to read the exhibit. A judge will stop you if you misread or mischaracterize the contents, but otherwise there is nothing wrong with reading from a document. See, e.g., Miller v. Holzman, Civil No. 95-1231, at 4-5 (D.D.C. 2006) and James W. McElhaney, "The Cleveland Exception to the Hearsay Rule and Other Courtroom Oddities," 1 Rev. of Litig. 93, 96-99 (1980).

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