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Do You Hate Motions in Limine As Much as I Do?

Or I should say as much as Magistrate Judge O'Sullivan?
Courts disfavor motions in limine. Id. (citation omitted). “[A]dmissibility questions should be ruled upon as they arise at trial. Accordingly, if evidence is not clearly admissible, evidentiary rulings must be deferred until trial to allow questions of foundation, relevancy, and prejudice to be resolved in context.” Id. (citation omitted)(emphasis in original). “[E]ven if nothing unexpected happens at trial, the district judge is free, in the exercise of sound judicial discretion, to alter a previous in limine ruling.” Luce, 469 U.S. at 41.
So they are basically losers and time-wasters unless it's obviously inadmissable in which case you could move to exclude the evidence with an ore tenus motion at trial anyway.

Ahh, but what about "educating the judge"?

Be careful what you wish for, because you may have educated the judge to deny it again, having already denied it once.

What say you?


  1. True but for criminal practice - the AUSAs love to exclude in limine every little bit of evidence they can. Also, they like to file "Judge, make the defense follow the rules" motions, which are quite annoying.

  2. Judge O'Sullivan misquoted that one citation. It should say, "if evidence is not clearly inadmissible ..."

    They can be worth it, if used judiciously. As the order says, the purpose of them is to give the judge notice and an opportunity to exclude inadmissible evidence that, if it were to be presented at trial, could highly prejudice one party. And just preparing the motion would help you think through the particular evidentiary issue you're facing, which is also a good thing.

    Also, I can think of at least one federal judge who often grants motions in limine.

  3. Good for lawyers bad for judges. You go to trial with 1,000 issues in mind. Eliminating a couple before trial through motions in limine would be helpful. Of course, the judged look at it the opposite way. Judges look at motions in limine as decentralizing the dispute ("Come on guys, don't make we work this week AND next week. Let's just handle all this stuff at once at trial.")

  4. Cases settle as a result of in limine rulings.


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