Many lawyers view motions in limine as tools used only to exclude or limit particular evidence. But the experts know that a motion in limine is also a useful tool to admit evidence.
There are many advantages to taking the time, before a jury has been selected, to secure advance rulings on evidence to be received in trial. You’ll have the court’s full attention because it hasn’t yet been divided by ruling on motions and selecting a jury. And you’ll have the most time to educate the court through thoughtful motions about the issue. If you wait until the jury is selected and must make the argument outside of their presence, you likely won’t have as much time to argue the motion because of the court’s concern for juror time.
It’s appropriate to use a motion in limine to admit evidence under Evid C §402(b) if you have significant concerns about admissibility of the evidence you plan to offer. It’s less disruptive to have the court consider preliminary facts before trial.
Always consult the local rules to make sure you comply with the proper procedure for making the motion.
If your motion in limine to admit evidence is denied, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the evidence won’t get in. You can:
- Renew the motion at the proper point during trial if you believe you can overcome an objection to the evidence; or
- Determine whether you can use other evidence to prove your point.
Keep in mind that a court may refuse to rule on a motion in limine to admit evidence because it believes that additional evidence should be heard before a final ruling can be made. In that situation, seek to have the evidence admitted in the usual manner at the appropriate point in the trial.
For more on dealing with admissibility issues before trial begins, turn to CEB’s Laying a Foundation to Introduce Evidence (Preparing and Using Evidence at Trial), steps 12-14. Also check out CEB’s California Trial Practice: Civil Procedure During Trial, chap 7 and Effective Introduction of Evidence in California, chap 4.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- Lost on a Motion in Limine? Make Your Record!
- Should You Make an In Limine Motion?
- Are You Showing Enough in an Offer of Proof?
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