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Trial Procedure: Indiana Court of Appeals Addresses 'Continuing Objections'
Posted in Litigation

On Monday, the Indiana Court of Appeals addressed the issue of “continuing” or “standing” objections at trial in Hayworth v. State

In Hayworth, the defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a search warrant.  The warrant was issued on the basis of a probable cause affidavit that included information the Court of Appeals deemed “misleading.”  The trial court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress, leaving defense counsel to object to the evidence at trial.  At trial, the defendant asked for a “continuing objection” to the evidence, but affirmatively stated “no objection” to a majority of the evidence at the time the evidence was introduced.  The Indiana Court of Appeals saw Hayworth as an opportunity to clarify the proper procedure for lodging continuing objections.

The Court explained, first, that “Indiana recognizes continuing objections” and that they “serve a useful purpose in trials. That is, they avoid the futility and waste of time inherent in requiring repetition of the same unsuccessful objection each time evidence of a given character is offered.”  But, Hayworth’s “haphazard pattern of objecting and not objecting,” the Court said, illustrated the “dangers to using continuing objections.”

The Court explained that the proper procedure for lodging a continuing objection is for “objecting counsel [to] ask the trial court to consider the same objection to be made and overruled each time a [specifically defined] class of evidence is offered.”  Then, “once counsel lodges a sufficiently specific objection to a particular class of evidence and the trial court grants a continuing objection, the proper procedure is to remain silent during the subsequent admission of that class of evidence.”  If the trial court does not permit the continuing objection, however, then counsel must object each time in order to preserve the issue for appeal.

Hayworth did not follow this procedure, and the Indiana Court of Appeals refused to find that her statement, “No objection,” should be interpreted to mean, “No objection other than the continuing objection.”  Thus, the Court held that she had waived her objections to the evidence.  The Court, however, did conclude that admission of the evidence constituted fundamental error, and reversed the conviction, due to the misleading statements in the probable cause affidavit.

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