Ambiguous Questions and Objections at Trial

Ambiguous questions at trial is a common objection that any litigator needs be aware of and needs to understand how to respond. New York State does not have a stand alone evidence code, the evidence law is found is the statutes for certain practice areas as well as the case law defining the law.

During, trial a question can be asked in which the opposing counsel raises the objection that the question is ambiguous, vague, misleading or unintelligible. A question if often considered ambiguous when it is susceptible to at least two interpretations or is so vague that is likely to confuse the jury or the witness. This objection must be raised immediately after the improper question.

Generally it is wise for the questioning attorney to rephrase the question. If the witness does not understand the question you are not doing yourself any favors arguing in front of a jury or a judge that the question is straight forward and they should be able to answer it.

There is no direct statute that relates to ambiguous questions at trial. New York State courts have the general authority to control the conduct of the trial and thus can rule on ambiguous objections.

Sample colloquy:

Plaintiff’s Attorney – Isn’t it true that transferred $1,00.00 to his account on August 1, 2012?

Defendant’s Attorney – Objection, your Honor, the question is ambiguous (who is his?)

Plaintiff’s Attorney – Let me clarify, isn’t it true that you transferred $1,000.0 to Mr. Jones account on August 1, 2012?

Spodek Law Group P.C. is a NY Divorce law firm located at 100 Church Street, 8th Floor NYC 10007. Please call us at (888) 729-7065 for a free consultation.