My knowledge of law is shallow and only comes from entertainment sources, mainly movies.

I was watching some moments of Johny Depp's trial. I noticed that, when an objection is made, the judge responds:

"I will sustain/overrule the objection".

Isn't that a bit verbose? In movies, I only hear "Sustained".

  • 4
    FWIW, I would hardly call a five word sentence in subject (I)-verb (will sustain)-object (the objection) form "verbose" and it might be easier to follow in the transcript if there was cross-talk.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 28 at 17:37
  • Having clarified I do not belong in the legal word, I would strongly argue that 5 words are way more verbose than one, especially when 1) no more info is usually conveyed in the rest and 2) 99% of what one person (the judge) is saying during a long time is just this and nothing else. Apr 28 at 17:46

1 Answer 1


It doesn't really matter exactly what the judge says as long as it's clear whether the judge is sustaining or overruling the objection. With that said, in movies you'll rarely see the person asking the question get to respond to the objection, but you'll notice in the trial that happens in most cases. For example, if one party objects that a question calls for hearsay, the examiner may defend their question by pointing out that the statement is not offered for the truth of the matter asserted, or that it falls into one of the hearsay exceptions. At that point the judge is responding to both parties and someone else or possibly multiple people have spoken since the objection was originally raised, so she might specify that she's "overruling the objection" as opposed to just saying overruled, so it just makes it clearer on the record what she's ruling about.

It's worth noting as well that she might need to specify which objection she's sustaining if more than one objection is raised. In this trial both hearsay and relevance objections have been raised at the same time, and the judge might specify that she's sustaining e.g. only relevance. This can tell the examiner whether they are free to keep going down the same line of questioning with different questions, if the objection sustained was hearsay, or to move to another line of questioning, if the objection sustained was relevance.

  • 3
    In TV, often the lawyer won't say what their basis for objecting is, either. "What did he tell you?" "Objection!" "Sustained". Apr 28 at 23:50

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