Overruled Vs Sustained
Legal Guides

What Is The Difference Between Overruled Vs Sustained?

| June 26, 2023

In the court of law, judges are often heard stating a case has been overruled. Or, in some cases, the appeal has been sustained. We are often confused regarding both these terms when we hear them during legal proceedings that we see in the news or in movies. But the main question is, how do we differentiate between overruled vs. sustained?

This article will provide you with knowledge regarding the legal terms of overruled and sustained. Along with the difference between the two terms. 

What Does Sustain The Objection Mean In Law?

Alright, legal thrill-seekers, let’s demystify this courtroom jargon! Picture this: you’re in the midst of a heated trial, objections flying like confetti. Suddenly, someone utters the magic words, “Sustain the objection.” What in the legal tango does that mean?

Objection Overruled vs. Sustain: The Legal Referee’s Call

Objection Overruled vs. Sustain The Legal Referee's Call

Think of the judge as the referee in this legal boxing ring. When an objection is raised, it’s like a challenge thrown into the ring. If the judge says, “Objection overruled,” it’s a metaphorical head nod, allowing the testimony or evidence to waltz right in. But when the judge declares, “Sustain the objection,” it’s a red light—the challenge is accepted, and the testimony or evidence is barred from entry.

Why Objections?: Keeping the Legal Waters Clear

Now, why the objection theatrics? It’s about keeping the legal waters clear and ensuring a fair fight. Attorneys object when they believe something in the courtroom ballet is unfair, irrelevant, or downright improper. The judge’s decision—whether to sustain or overrule—is like the umpire’s call, maintaining order in the legal arena.

Celebration or Frustration: Depending on the Team

For the attorney who raised the objection, a sustained ruling is a victory dance. It means the legal referee agreed that something wasn’t right. On the flip side, if the objection is overruled, it’s a moment of frustration, but the legal game goes on.

What Does Objection Overrule Mean In Courts?

What Does Objection Overrule Mean In Courts

Alright, legal aficionados, let’s unravel the mystery behind those courtroom theatrics! Imagine the scene: the trial is in full swing, objections are buzzing, and suddenly, you hear the magical words, “Objection overruled.” What’s the legal scoop on this phrase?

1. Referee’s Call: Overruling the Objection

Think of the judge as the referee in this legal game. When an objection is raised—like a player disputing a call—the judge steps in to make the final decision. “Objection overruled” is like the ref saying, “Nah, play on.” It means the challenge is dismissed and whatever objected to is allowed to strut its stuff in the courtroom.

2. Why Object?: It’s a Legal Tug of War

So, why the objection drama? Attorneys object when they believe something in the legal performance is unfair, irrelevant, or improper. It’s a bit like a tug of war, each side pulling to sway the judge’s decision. When the judge overrules, it’s a nod to the other team—allowing the testimony or evidence to stand.

3. Keep on Swinging: Legal Battle Continues

For the attorney who raised the objection, an “overruled” ruling might bring a moment of frustration. But fear not, legal warriors—the game goes on! The courtroom is a battlefield of arguments and counterarguments, objections, and overruled decisions.

Types of Objections

Types of Objections

Attorneys often raise objections in court during a legal proceeding. This challenges the admissibility of the evidence, the opposition counsel’s conduct, and other procedural issues. The common types of objections are: 


An objection based on the relevance asserts that the evidence presents itself is not relevant to the case at hand. The attorney asks to discard the evidence due to lack of relevance. 


These objections are raised when the party attempts to introduce different out-of-court statements made by someone other than the testifying witness. These are later offered to prove the matter’s truth for any further confusion. 

Leading Question 

When an attorney asks a question that might suggest that the answers are putting words in the witness’s mouth. Your attorney argues that the opposing counsel is leading them on. 


In this case, objections are speculated when a witness is asked to testify about matters that are beyond their personal knowledge. These speculations are purely based on conjecture. 

Assumes Facts Not in Evidence

Assumes Facts Not in Evidence 

In this case, the objection gets raised when the question assumes the existence of facts that aren’t yet established by the evidence presented in court. 

Compound Question 

In this case, when multiple questions are asked at once, making it difficult for witnesses to come up with a clear answer. This objection is compounded by corroborating the witness. 

Improper Character Evidence 

In this case, the objection is raised purely on a person’s character or disposition to infer their conduct in a particular situation. However, if there are exceptions in the character evidence, then this objection won’t work. 


In this case, the objection challenges the reliability of a document or a piece of evidence offered. 

Best Evidence Rule

Best Evidence Rule

In this case, the objection gets raised when secondary evidence is replaced with the original document of evidence. This may even violate the overall best evidence rule. 


In this case, the objections are based on the privilege asserting communications protected through legal privileges. For example, attorney-client privilege, and doctor-patient privilege shouldn’t be disclosed in court.

What is meant by Overruled?

What is meant by Overruled?

Within court trials, the legal term overruled is meant to reject a lawyer’s objection to a question of a witness. 

Overulled is also stated when an admission on a piece of evidence is rejected by the judge. 

The judge has the power to decide whether to overrule an objection or not presented by a litigator. 

If you are presenting a piece of new evidence to the case you are advocating for can be overruled by the judge if he or she feels it’s unnecessary for the legal proceeding. 

Additionally, the term overruled or overruled is meant by ruling over, governing, or identifying through a superior authority. It also means the nullification of a ruling by a higher authority. 

For instance, the High Court has overruled the election results in Florida. This is a case where the higher authority rejects the present notion. 

What Is Meant By Sustained?

What Is Meant By Sustained?

In court proceedings, the legal term sustained is meant approved. 

The judge uses the term showcasing his or her approval or verification of an objective that the defense lawyer presents. 

For instance, when a litigator objects to a lawyer’s question to their client during a court proceeding, the judge says sustained. It means the other attorney does not have the authority to ask the question. 

Sustain is also defined as the ability to keep something in existence, continue and keep it up for a long period of time. 

For example, the judge has sustained the defense attorney’s objection during the trial of murder. 

Overruled Vs Sustained: Difference

Overruled Vs Sustained

Overruled and sustained are the two most used legal jargons that are used in every court proceeding. 

You have obviously heard both terms in real life, along with in TV shows or movies. 

The key differences between the two legal terms are as follows: 

The term overruled could be stated as the restriction determined by the judge at a trial. 

Overulled could be determined as an ongoing process. This means a judge might subject evidence or question to be invalid when stating that as overruled. 

Like a judge overruling an objection brought in the court will lead to the question being ongoing. This means the question will be withstanding, and the witness will have to answer the question. 

Additionally, ongoing statements and questions that occur within the court are stated as overruled factors, like the witness going through the trial as if an objection has not been raised. 

On the other hand, the legal term sustained is defined by an objection or question that has been determined as vital for the ongoing case. 

This means when an objection has been considered as sustained, it is an improper question under the rule of evidence. 

When an objection or question has been sustained, it is not answerable by the witness. 

One easy way you can easily remember the meaning of the legal term sustain is by stopping, as it stops the witness from answering the prior question that has been asked by a lawyer. 

So, it could be stated that overruled is used when a judge finds an objection as invalid and restricts it from occurring. While sustained is recognized as identifying a question or objection as valid and letting it continue. 

Can The Court Overule The Jury?

Can The Court Overule The Jury?

The judge presiding in the court has full power to overrule the decision that has been presented by the jury. 

The judge will only overrule the decision provided by the jury when it has enough knowledge regarding the lack of evidence while making the decision. 


Now you have a better understanding of the two most used terms in legal proceedings.

You will now understand when a judge yells out sustained or overruled over certain statements made by attorneys in a court of law

Reading the whole article has also provided you with the aspect regarding the ability to effectively provide the different definitions of the two legal jargon. 

So, you can also effectively make use of the two legal terms in your legal documents to state whether it is accepted or rejected.

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Jyoti Jha
Jyoti Jha

Jyoti Jha is a freelance SEO content writer for tech , health, and education-related content. With 5 years of experience in the industry, I am creating high-quality content that captivates readers and delivers value.


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