What Is a Motion in Limine?

General Definition

A motion in limine is “[a] pretrial request that certain inadmissible evidence not be referred to or offered at trial.” (Motion in Limine, Black's Law Dictionary, 11th ed. 2019, available at Westlaw.)

“Typically, a party makes this motion when it believes that mere mention of the evidence during trial would be highly prejudicial and could not be remedied by an instruction to disregard. If, after the motion is granted, the opposing party mentions or attempts to offer the evidence in the jury's presence, a mistrial may be ordered.” (Id.)

Overview of State Court Authorities

Arizona

“A motion in limine may be used to exclude evidence that is not properly disclosed under Rule 26.1, Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure (Ariz.R.Civ.P.).” (See Zimmerman v. Shakman (2003) 204 Ariz. 231…)

California

Under California Evidence Code § 352, the court has discretion to exclude evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the probability that its admission will…

Connecticut

Motions in Limine, Generally

“[T]he trial court has broad discretion in ruling on the admissibility ... of evidence.... [The reviewing Court] will make every reasonable presumption in favor of upholding the trial court's ruling, and…”

Motion in Limine to Preclude Evidence or Reference

"The decision to preclude a party from introducing expert testimony is within the discretion of the trial court.” (Amsden v. Fischer (2001) 62 Conn. App. 323, 325-26 citing…)

Delaware

“In order for evidence to be admissible, it has to be relevant. Relevant evidence is evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.” (See Reading In. v. Equip. Leasing Assoc., C.A. No. 02C-10-223 SCD…)

Florida

Under Florida Stat. § 90.403, relevant evidence is inadmissible if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of issues, misleading the jury…

Georgia

In Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Supreme Court held that “[if] the denial of a motion in limine is harmless when the evidence is not offered at trial, logic compels the conclusion that the grant of a motion in limine is harmless when the evidence is admitted at trial.” (Panos v. Dept. of Transportation (1982) 162 Ga. App. 53,…)

Illinois

“When a motion in limine is granted, the key to saving for review an error in the exclusion of evidence is an adequate offer of proof in the trial court.” (Snelson v. Kamm (2003) 204 Ill. 2d 1…)

Massachusetts

“The decision to exclude expert testimony rests in the broad discretion of the judge and will not be disturbed unless the exercise of that discretion constitutes…”

Michigan

“Evidence is not inadmissible simply because it is prejudicial. Clearly, in every case, each party attempts to introduce evidence that causes prejudice to the other party.” (Fremont Ins. Co., supra, id., citing Waknin v Chamberlain (2002) 467 Mich 329…)

Missouri

“In limine is defined as in or at the beginning and a motion in limine is traditionally used as a way of excluding the admission of testimony or evidence at the beginning of litigation.” (See In re Jones (2013) 420 S.W.3d 605…)

New Jersey

Motion in Limine to Bar Evidence or Reference

“A motion in limine is a pretrial request that certain inadmissible evidence not be referred to or offered at trial.” (See Cho v. Trinitas Reg'l Med. Ctr. (2015) 443 N.J. Super 461…)

Motion in Limine

“Thus, it is anticipated that, as a general rule, a motion in limine will not have a dispositive impact on a litigant's entire case.” (See Seoung Ouk Cho v. Trinitas Reg'l Med. Ctr. (2015) 443 N.J. Super. 461…)

Nevada

“An attorney's violation of an order in limine can amount to misconduct justifying a new trial under NRCP 59(a)(2) if the standards established by Lioce v. Cohen are met.” (Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft v. Roth (2011) 252 P.3d 649 citing Lioce v. Cohen (2008) 124 Nev. 1, 174 P.3d 970.)

New York

Under New York CPLR § 4011, the court may determine the sequence in which the issues shall be tried and otherwise regulate the conduct of the trial in order to achieve a speedy and unprejudiced disposition of the matters at issue…

Ohio

“A motion in limine is commonly used as a tentative, precautionary request to limit inquiry into a specific area until its admissibility is determined during trial.” (Gable v. Village of Gates Mills (2004) 103 Ohio St. 3d 449…)

Oklahoma

“Trial court decisions concerning admission of evidence are reviewed on appeal pursuant to an abuse of discretion standard.” (See Chesapeake Operating Inc. v. Kast Trust Farms (2013) 352 P.3d 1231…)

Pennsylvania

“Evidence is relevant if it has ‘any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.’” (Crespo v. Hughes (2017) 167 A.3d 168, 179 citing Pa.R.E. 401.)

Rhode Island

It is well settled that pursuant to Rule 104 “A trial justice should liberally grant a motion in limine to conduct a preliminary hearing once the moving party has provided a sufficient offer of proof bringing into question the reliability of the expert at hand. Early pretrial Rule 104(a) hearings with serious consideration of the motion in limine benefits everyone: the judge, the jury, the lawyers, the parties, everyone.”(See Santos v. Fischer, 97-0162 (2003), C.A. No. PC97-0162, at *1 (R.I. Super. Aug. 27, 2003).)

Texas

Motion in Limine to Exclude Reference

Under Tex.R.Civ.P. 193.6, a party may motion the court to exclude reference to material and information not timely produced during the discovery process, as a sanction for the opposing party's failure to comply.

Motion in Limine, Generally

"No formal provision is made for motions in limine in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the Rules, or elsewhere.” (Harnett v. State (2000) 38 S.W.3d 650, 655.) “The lack of an accepted definition renders difficult the determination of the effectiveness of motions in limine in…

Washington

It is well settled that “ER 403 permits the court to exclude relevant evidence where unduly prejudicial.” (See King v. Olympic Pipe Line (2000) 104 Wn. App. 338…)

Wisconsin

“The purpose of [a] motion in limine is to obtain an advance ruling on admissibility of certain evidence.” (See Calewarts v. CR Meyer & Sons Co. (2015) 862 N.W.2d 902.)

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