Part 1: Actual transcript

 Posted By: je froilan m. clerigo
30-May-2008
The following is a transcript of a direct examination in a criminal case for murder. We decided to comment on it (see the paragraphs in italics). See if you agree with our comments and suggestions on how to make it better. This was taken from People vs. Lee, G.R. No. 139070,  May 29, 2002 (382 SCRA 605-609):
 
"x    x     x
 

ATTY. OPENA:     Now who was your companion, if any, at that time?

WITNESS   :       Me and my son, Joseph Marquez, and the wife upstairs putting the baby to sleep.
Q      :       What were you and your son, Joseph, doing then?
A      :       Watching TV.
Q      :       Will you please tell us your position, I am referring to you and your son in relation to the television set where you are watching the show.
A      :       We were facing each other while watching television which is on the left side.
Q      :       Will you please tell us where exactly was your son, Joseph, seated   while watching television?
A      :       At the end most of the sofa.
Q      :       The sofa you are referring to is the one near the window.
 
Some may say this is a leading question, especially considering that as you will notice in the later stages of the direct, the window being referred to here will assume significance. There was no objection, however; so, it went in. But, if there was an objection, the examiner can just rephrase by asking, “Is there a window in the living room?” “Where was the sofa in relation to this window?” 
 
A      :       Yes, sir. Dikit lang po.
Q      :       Will you give us an idea or describe to us that window which you mentioned awhile ago?
A      :       Transparent glass.
Q      :       How high is it from the ground?
COURT:     Which one?
ATTY. OPENA:     The window glass?
WITNESS: About three feet from the ground.
ATTY. OPENA TO WITNESS:
Q      :       You said three feet. What do you mean by that? Is that window elevated from the ground?
A      :       The same height as this court window which is about three feet from the ground, and from one another about four by four window [sic], three feet by the ground.
Q      :       Now, you demonstrated by showing a portion, you mean to tell us that window was mounted on a concrete or hollow block?
A      :       Hollow block, po.
Q      :       How high is that hollow block that you were referring to?
COURT:     She said three feet.
ATTY. OPENA TO WITNESS:
Q      :       Which is higher, that sofa which is posted near the window or the hollow block?
A      :       Hollow block.
Q      :       By how many inches or feet?
A      :       About half a foot.
Q      :       You said the sofa was long. Will you please tell us in what portion of your sofa your son Joseph was seated?
ATTY. VARGAS: Already answered, your Honor. She said dulo, end of the sofa."
 

     The reason asked-and-answered questions are objectionable is because they tend to unduly emphasize testimony. Here, the defense objected, but at the same time he states what the answer was; instead of deemphasizing, he was emphasizing. If you will object on this ground, just say "Objection, Your Honor, that question had been asked and answered." On the whole, however, unless you are sure the court will remember that it was indeed asked and answered, it is better not to object on this ground. The court will just ask the stenographer to read back the question and answer, or will just ask you what the answer was to that question before. Either way, it defeats the purpose of objecting.

          COURT: Sustained.

- to be continued -