An in limine motion is a request made before trial to admit or exclude evidence before the evidence is offered. It’s most commonly used to exclude evidence that might be prejudicial if offered or discussed in front of the jury.
Here are the general advantages and disadvantaging of using a motion in limine:
Advantages of In Limine Motion
Advantages of Introducing
Aids trial planning: you can plan testimony relying on admissibility of evidence in question or can compensate when evidence has been ruled inadmissible.
Permits briefing; gives judge time to consider issue.
May give you more insight into your opponent’s case.
Makes for smoother presentation at trial.
Educates judge about your case.
May create better written record for appeal.
Introducing the evidence during trial may not trigger an objection.
An in limine motion reveals some of your trial strategy.
A written motion allows opposing counsel time to research counter arguments.
It may be advantageous for jury to witness your efforts to admit evidence in the face of obstructionist efforts by opposing counsel.
If the facts favor your position more than the law does, you may want to force the judge to make a quick decision without the opportunity for research.
If you simply present or oppose the evidence during trial, you may catch opposing counsel unprepared and with less opportunity to make a good record.
Motions in limine can be very useful, but they’re still the exception, not the rule; most court decisions on evidence admissibility are made when evidence is offered and objected to during trial.
For expert advice on in limine motions and how to combat evidence objections generally, turn to CEB’s Effective Introduction of Evidence in California, chapter 3.
Check out other CEBblog™ posts on evidence issues, particularly:
- Be Ready to Oppose Motions in Limine
- Exclude Evidence Early: Using an In Limine Motion
- Introducing Evidence? Make an Offer of Proof!
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