Sunday, January 10, 2010

Duty to Make Specific Objections

Admittedly, this topic is an elementary one.  But I wouldn't be writing about it if it were not a commonly seen appellate issue (or waived appellate issue).  Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 33.1 provides:

33.1.  Preservation; How Shown
(a)    In General. As a prerequisite to presenting a complaint for appellate review, the record must show that:
     (1)     the complaint was made to the trial court by a timely request, objection, or motion that:
          (A)   stated the grounds for the ruling that the complaining party sought from the trial court with sufficient specificity to make the trial court aware of the complaint, unless the specific grounds were apparent from the context; and
          (B)   complied with the requirements of the Texas Rules of Civil or Criminal Evidence or the Texas Rules of Civil or Appellate Procedure; and
     (2)     the trial court:
          (A)   ruled on the request, objection, or motion, either expressly or implicitly; or
          (B)   refused to rule on the request, objection, or motion, and the complaining party objected to the refusal.
With that rule in mind, I do not understand why trial counsel continue to make general objections without stating the specific grounds for the objection.  Maybe in the counsel's mind the specific grounds of the objection "were apparent from the context," but you owe a duty to your client to preserve error for appeal.  Because, as we know, if you fail to make a specific objection and/or fail to obtain a ruling from the trial court, the issue will be deemed "waived" by the appellate courts.  Further, an ineffective assistance of counsel claim will usually not stand because the simple making of the general objection will be enough to clear that hurdle.

Anyway, maybe this is more of a rant than a scholarly post, but take it for what it is.