One very important aspect when engaging in complex business litigation and trial work is having certain issues decided by the court before the trial begins, outside the presence of a jury. This is done by something called a motion in limine. In limine is a Latin term meaning at the doorstep, so it is an issue that is raised at the doorstep before the trial begins. This usually relates to a claim by one party to exclude certain evidence that they expect the other side to try to introduce. The position for wanting to exclude it would be that it was either irrelevant, it would result in an undue consumption of time, or that it would be unduly prejudicial. These motions allow the court to carefully consider this, outside the heat of battle at trial.
Another reason to use a motion in limine is if there is certain evidence that you want to have introduced at trial and you believe the other side may object to it. There may be a certain statement that you want to have admitted and the other side is claiming it is hearsay, but you claim there may be an exception to the hearsay rule, and you want the court to give an advanced ruling on the admissibility. It’s very important to consider all possible motions in limine to be filed because you want to have advanced rulings on certain things, so you don’t have to worry about it if it goes to trial. You want to raise it to the court, so the court is aware of it. Once certain evidence is given, you can’t un-ring that bell. This is a way of having rulings made before someone spurts out certain inadmissible evidence that could be prejudicial or harmful.
A lot of care should be given to considering motions in limine and you should try to file as many as possible, provided that they are relevant. You want to find very serious issues on the admissibility of evidence that needs an advance ruling. It is very important to consider possible motions in limine to file before the trial or before the jury is empanelled.
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