Why Do Judges Tell Witnesses Not To Answer Some Questions?

I was on a jury recently.  One lawyer made some objections to questions asked by the other lawyer and the judge told the witness not to answer the questions.  Why did the judge do that?

Judges rule on objections made by lawyers and apply the rules the evidence.  The rules of evidence prohibit some types of information from being heard by a jury.  These rules are developed to make a trial as fair as possible, consistent with certain public policy considerations.

For instance, a jury will rarely be permitted to hear about settlement negotiations between the parties to a lawsuit.  The reason for this rule is that the law wants to encourage people to discuss settlement without having that be used against them later in a trial.  If the law of evidence permitted a jury to learn about settlement negotiations people would be less likely to discuss settlements.  This would mean more trials, more costs, and more delays in our system.

A judge must apply the law of evidence.and make decisions about what a jury should hear and should not hear in the case.  By making these rulings, the judge is not taking sides in the case but instead only making a ruling on the appropriateness of a question or line of questioning.

Contact Information