Written by attorney Angelo Felice Campano

Keep it out of court with a Motion in Limine.

Don’t want the jury to see something negative about your case? Then, make a motion in limine. A Motion in limine is a motion made before trial to exclude evidence from trial on the ground that the evidence is either irrelevant or subject to discretionary exclusion as unduly prejudicial.SeeUlloa v. McMillin Real Estate & Mortgage, Inc. (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 333, 337-338. In other words, you are asking the judge to keep something out of the trial because you think it might be bad for your case and do not want the judge or jury to see or hear it.

There are times, however, when a motion in limine can be made to request the judge to permit you do something or to present evidence at trial, although this type of motion is rarer.

Motions in limine are usually made before trial starts, because by then you will know or have an idea of what the other side will try to show the judge or jury during the trial. Motions in limine, however, can be made during trial and typically happen when you learn that the other side is about to bring evidence into the trial and, at the last minute, you want to ask the judge to keep out, i.e. you make a motion in limine.

When you make your motion in limine, it is usually done in writing, and will have the specific evidence you want excluded from trial. Most motions in limine, however, that I have seen from other attorneys forget to be specific and instead become too general for the judge to decide on whether to grant or deny the motion. A typical too general of motion in limine, for example, is one that asks the judge to exclude all evidence not produced before trial. Although it is a reasonable motion to make because it is not fair to guess what evidence will suddenly pop up at trial, this type of motion is too general for the judge to know what evidence was or was not produced during trial. A better way to make this motion is to be specific and ask the judge to exclude the specific evidence you think will be brought to trial. A specific motion in limine, for example, is to make a motion in limine to exclude any photographs of vehicle in accident not produced during discovery. With this motion, the judge can cut to the chase, and find out within minutes what photographs of the vehicle were produced and were not produced. Then, the judge can make his ruling, by either granting, denying or reserving a decision until during trial.

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