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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Motions in Limine & Forensics

In a forensics case, motions in limine may address topics as diverse as whether:

  • Crime scene photographs are inadmissible because of the gruesome nature of the injuries depicted.
  • A "chain of custody" is sufficient to admit physical evidence.
  • A novel scientific technique or the nature or scope of the expert's conclusions is valid.
  • There is inadmissible hearsay evidence or privileged information that cannot be disclosed.
  • Evidence also conveys information about other crimes or bad acts, or the character of the accused.

At its most fundamental, a motion in limine will seek a determination of whether the evidence is relevant, a term defined as the tendency to make a fact of issue either more or less probable.

Relevance includes issues such as chain of custody and authentication. Even if relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value (the power of an item of evidence to prove a particular point) is substantially outweighed by the risk of introducing unfair prejudice.

Relevant evidence may also be excluded if it includes inadmissible hearsay or privileged information.

For more on admissibility issues, see Importance of Case Preparation, Topics 3, 11, 14 and 15 and Pretrial, Topics 2 and 3.

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