Whether you're a plaintiff or a defendant, matters that are resolved behind the scenes can have as big an impact on your success as those which happen in open court. One such behind-the-scenes issue is known as a motion in limine. What is this motion? When and how is it deployed? And how can you avoid pitfalls when using it?
Here's what every civil litigant needs to know about the process.
What Is a Motion in Limine?
A motion in limine is a Latin term referring to motions that seek to exclude a certain piece of evidence, facts, or testimony before it's ever presented to the jury. The reasons this is necessary vary widely, but it may be due to the facts not being relevant to the matter at hand, the likelihood of creating an unfair prejudice (such as past convictions or gruesome photos), or an unqualified expert witness.
When Are Motions in Limine Heard?
In general, many motions in limine are made and heard during the pre-trial period. This is because the most effective use of a motion in limine is to prevent the jury from even knowing of the existence of the disputed witness, evidence, or statement. However, motions can also happen just as the trial begins and may come up during the trial.
Why Should You Be Selective?
Excluding unwanted evidence or troublesome testimony can be very helpful to your case. But that doesn't mean you should use motions in limine to try to get all sorts of things excluded. The court's or the jury's patience could be tested, backfiring on your efforts. Focus on the most important issues to bar from the trial wholesale and address others as the trial proceeds.
How Are Motions in Limine Resolved?
There are not always set rules about how motions in limine must be drafted, presented, or ruled on. In general, each court and judge has their own preference about the formalities, including when and how to hear motions. However, in any case, the motion will receive a fair consideration usually in the presence of both legal teams — but never in the presence of the jury.
Where Can You Learn More?
Motions in limine may happen outside the main trial, but they set the stage for fairness and even a legitimate advantage for your case. Learn more about them by meeting with a civil law firm in your state today.Share
30 March 2023
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