The Latin phrase “in limine” means “on the threshold”. A motion in limine (MIL) is simply a motion made “at the start” of trial, during a recess, or before a witness testifies.

In limines are pre-trial motions discussed outside the presence of the jury, to request inclusion or exclusion of certain prejudicial testimony or relevant evidence. The motion is decided by a judge in both civil and criminal proceedings, and on both state and federal levels.

Jury trials in employment cases often involve emotionally-charged allegations and may include supporting evidence with limited probative value or is unduly prejudicial.

In limines can be powerful weapons to narrow claims and disputed issues, and can educate the trial judge. Other goals may include developing case themes, limiting the length of the trial, getting a read on the trial judge, and preserving issues for possible post-trial motions and appeal.

MILs in employment cases frequently center around the admissibility of evidence that tend to undermine a party’s character and credibility, or  evoke emotional bias or prejudice the jury against a party.

Examples of MILs aimed at the exclusion or admission of evidence that has a tendency to prejudice or evoke an emotional bias can include:
• “#MeToo” evidence  – evidence that shows that an employer discriminated, retaliated against or harassed employees other than the plaintiff
• Plaintiff’s prior litigation history that paints them as litigious
• Criminal history
•Employer’s financial situation
• Unreliable expert testimony

All MILs that are not stipulated or contested must be filed in accordance with the court’s motion practice procedure order.

Counsel preparing for trial of an employment case should carefully consider strategic MILs, which can narrow the issues, protect the fairness of the trial and lead to favorable outcomes. For an Employment Law consultation, contact Derek Usman at the Usman Firm office at (813) 377-1197.

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