Lawyers deliver drama on TV, but witnesses and evidence star in the Derek Chauvin trial

Why aren’t the lawyers objecting more?

That’s a question I have been hearing since the trial of Derek Chauvin began Monday. The former Minneapolis police officer faces three homicide charges arising from the death of George Floyd in May. Other than an occasional objection when a witness interjects an opinion, lawyers have not jumped up to interrupt the testimony. Why not?

The answer is that good lawyers stay out of the way of the evidence.

In the movies and on TV, it is the lawyers who deliver the moments of drama with trick questions, eloquent speeches and, yes, objections. In real life, lawyers’ presentations are usually less animated. That’s because lawyers want the spotlight to be on the witnesses and the evidence. When deliberating, jurors will be tasked with weighing the facts. The judge will even tell them that what the lawyers say is not evidence. That doesn’t mean the lawyer’s role is unimportant. It is just that lawyers do most of their work before the trial begins. Once the trial is underway, they let the evidence speak for itself.

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