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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Pretrial Conference

Pretrial Conference
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

The expert witness should be aware that the following legal events may occur before the trial takes place. Consult with the retaining attorney regarding the outcome of any legal procedures and the possible effect on the expert's testimony. Well before the trial, the attorneys usually meet with the judge to discuss the possibilities of resolving the case or reaching a settlement, which is followed by several events that determine how the trial will be scheduled and conducted. These events are referred to as the pretrial conference.

During the pretrial conference, the parties clarify the issues in dispute and begin to set parameters for the admissibility of evidence. A certain type of motion, called a motion in limine, may be submitted to the judge during the pretrial proceedings to limit the admissibility of evidence. (This motion may also be brought during trial.)

The motion in limine requests that certain types of evidence not be allowed at trial, for various prejudicial, irrelevancy or constitutional reasons. Before the trial, the judge rules on these pretrial motions to determine whether the evidence in question will be admissible during the trial.

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