Top 10 Motions in Limine
The following ten motions in are from the book California Criminal Defense Motions in Limine. Motion and page numbers within the motions correspond to the book. These ten motions address issues that recur in many trials.
10. Prohibit Description of Video Recording
Video recordings are now ubiquitous and are part of many cases. Prosecution witnesses often narrate videos to give their own interpretation of what the videos show or, worse, prosecution witnesses describe their conclusions about what a video shows instead of showing the video to the jury. A jury is entitled to make its own determination as to what a video shows. This motion seeks to have the jury make that determination without influence from the prosecution.
9. Limit Conversations Near Jurors
An in-custody defendant cannot roam the halls of the courtroom while discussing the next defense move. Conversely, prosecution witnesses are almost always out of custody, and it is common for prosecutors and witnesses to discuss the pending case in the courthouse hallways where jurors may overhear. This motion seeks to prevent such conversations.
8. Limit Prosecution Witness Conferences
A prosecutor may attempt to help a floundering witness by reviewing police reports with the witness, describing the prosecution’s case to the witness, or otherwise trying to get the witness back on track. This motion seeks to limit such efforts.
7. Prohibit Use of Prosecution’s Demonstrative Evidence
Demonstrative evidence can mislead a jury and prejudice a defendant. Video, PowerPoint, photomontage, and other such highly visual presentations can have a powerful effect, and the defense often sees such presentations only as they are being presented to the jury. This leaves little opportunity to object without giving the jury the impression that the defense has something to hide. This motion asks for an opportunity to review such demonstrative evidence before it is presented to the jury.
6. Admit Evidence of Consciousness of Innocence
If a defendant flees, destroys evidence, or otherwise exhibits a consciousness of guilt, the prosecution can use those acts to show guilt. This motion seeks to admit acts demonstrating a consciousness of innocence to prove innocence.
5. Examine Exhibits Outside the Presence of the Jury
Many judges prudently require exhibits to be premarked and discussed outside the presence of the jury. This motion seeks to formalize the practice and ensure that prosecutors do not add new exhibits during the heat of witness examination without first giving the defense opportunity to object without the jury present.
4. Facilitate Defendant’s Communication with Counsel
An attorney should not be unduly restricted in communicating with his client, especially when the client is on trial, but jails often restrict phone calls, restrict mail, restrict defense computer use at the jail, or otherwise place restrictions on the defendant and the defense team that hamper effective trial preparation. This motion offers some suggestions to minimize interference with defense efforts.
3. Provide Private Meeting Room for Defense
If counsel and other members of the defense team try to chat with an in-custody defendant during breaks in the proceedings, there is a great danger that conversations will be overheard by bailiffs, court staff, members of the prosecution team, and others. This motion requests a private room at the courthouse during breaks in the proceeding, an hour before court, during lunch, and a half-hour after the close of proceedings so the defense team can privately confer with the defendant.
2. Make Motions in Limine Binding
If motions in limine are not binding, counsel must renew objections in front of the jury to preserve issues for review. Repeated objections can give the jury the impression that the defense has something to hide. This motion seeks to eliminate the need for repeated objections.
1. Motion to Federalize Objections
To make a proper constitutional objection, the state and federal courts have required precision and specificity by counsel. In other words, simply objecting “hearsay,” will not preserve a federal Sixth Amendment confrontation issue, nor will objecting “Evidence Code 352” preserve a Federal due process issue for review in Federal courts. If objections are not preserved, Federal courts will not review them. This motion seeks to remedy this problem.
Motions Under Consideration
Motions in Limine submitted by visitors are listed here for comments, suggestions, and additions. If you would like to comment on, submit. or suggest a motion, please send us a message through the Contacts Page.
- Allow Display of Physical Characteristics Download
- Require Opinions to be Based on Reliable Subject Matter Download
- AB 333 motions. Prohibit Improper Gang Predicates – Bifurcate Gang