November 9th, 2022
What is a Motion in Limine and What is the Purpose of a Motion in Limine?
There are many types of motions that may be filed during a lawsuit. One of which is a “motion in limine.” To start, you may be wondering what does “in limine” even mean. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, in limine is Latin for “on the threshold,” which makes sentence given the purpose of a motion in limine. Motions in limine can be filed in both civil and criminal cases.
So that leads to the question, what exactly is a motion in limine? A motion in limine is “[a] pretrial motion asking that certain evidence be found inadmissible, and that it not be referred to or offered at trial.” Put another way, a motion in limine is a motion that is filed by a party to keep a piece of evidence out of the case for one reason or another.
There can be many reasons for a motion in limine. As such, there are some evidentiary rules that may come into play. To start, Federal Rule of Evidence 104(a) states, in part, “[t]he court must decide any preliminary question about whether a witness is qualified, a privilege exists, or evidence is admissible.” Many motions in limine assert that a piece of evidence is not relevant to the case at hand or that the evidence is technically relevant, but its relevance is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusing of the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence. As such, Federal Rule of Evidence 401 and Federal Rule of Evidence 403 are often cited in motions in limine.
As a case moves toward its trial date, motions in limine become essential to consider. It is important to evaluate your case throughout the course of the litigation to determine what motions in limine may be deemed necessary. The motions in limine that may be appropriate can potentially change as the case heads to trial. Therefore, it is important to be constantly evaluating the case.
Motions in limine are a procedural tool that can be extremely beneficial in a case. Understanding the basic meaning and purpose of a motion in limine is key in utilizing it properly. As the case moves through the litigation process, it does not hurt to always be contemplating the motions in limine you may want file.