Trump’s attorneys used a motion in limine to keep what’s been going on with his presidential run away from the jurors in the class action against him related to Trump University. This is just the type of situation a motion in limine is perfect to address. Indeed, the greatest value of in limine motions lies in a party’s ability to confront prejudicial evidence before it’s presented at trial and comes to a jury’s attention.
If it appears that opposing counsel intends to introduce or refer to unduly prejudicial evidence, making a motion in limine to exclude the evidence is the best option.
To get fullest benefit of a motion in limine, request a court order that specifically
- bars the parties, their attorneys, and witnesses from referring to the prejudicial evidence in the jury’s presence at any time during trial—including during voir dire, opening statement, examination of witnesses, and closing argument, and
- directs opposing counsel to instruct his or her client and witnesses not to refer to the evidence and to follow the court’s order.
When you’re asking the trial judge to exclude evidence under Evid C §352 because it may cause “undue” prejudice, i.e, it has a danger of evoking an unfair or overwhelming personal bias while having little probative value, keep in mind that you can’t compel the court to exclude evidence under §352. You can only ask the court to invoke its discretion. If the court declines to exercise its discretionary power, on appeal you’ll have to make a clear showing on the record that the trial court abused its discretion.
Given this discretionary dynamic, you need to clearly identify the evidence you want excluded and put that evidence in the proper context so that the judge has enough background information to make an informed decision.
In their motion in limine, Law 360 reports that Trump’s lawyers argued that the jurors can use the ballot box to judge Mr. Trump on the allegations of misconduct and inflammatory statements, “[b]ut it is in the jury box where they must judge him and this case only on evidence and argument relevant to the issues at hand.” It will be interesting to see how this motion, and the case itself, turns out.
Learn the strategies around bringing motions in limine as well guidance on the procedural aspects in CEB’s California Trial Practice: Civil Procedure During Trial, chap 7. And on excluding relevant evidence under Evid C §352, check out CEB’s California Trial Objections, chap 31.
Other CEBblog™ posts on motions in limine:
- Exclude Evidence Early: Using an In Limine Motion
- Lost on a Motion in Limine? Make Your Record!
- Should You Make an In Limine Motion?
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