Alabama Standards of Review of Evidentiary Rulings at Trial; General Objection as “Irrelevant” Generally Does Not Preserve Objection for Appellate Review

In Ross v. Rosen-Rager, the Alabama Supreme Court provided guidance as to the standards by which it reviews evidentiary rulings at trial, as well as the substance of the objection that must be made at trial to preserve appellate review. 

In general, a trial court’s ruling on the admission or exclusion of evidence will be reversed only if it is shown that the trial court exceeded its discretion in its ruling.  In order to preserve an objection to an evidentiary ruling for appellate review, a party is required to make a specific objection in the trial court.  The court has stated:

A specific objection is a condition precedent to appellate review while a general objection is a waiver of appellate review….A general objection to evidence is one which does not definitely and specifically state the ground upon which it is based so that the court may intelligently rule on it. 

Generally, an objection on the ground that proffered evidence is irrelevant is a general objection and a party may not expand that objection on appeal by including the specific grounds that made the evidence irrelevant.