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Copyright (c) 1999 University of Memphis Law Review
The University of Memphis Law Review

ARTICLE: Motions in Limine in Employment Discrimination Litigation

Spring / Summer, 1999

29 U. Mem. L. Rev. 823


Charles C. Warner *


I. Introduction

The litigation of employment discrimination cases has dramatically changed over the last several years principally due to the advent of compensatory damages and jury trials in Title VII and related cases. Unlike most judges, jurors tend to be far more affected by evidence that has little or no probative value but appeals to sympathy or prejudice. To avoid this problem, and to resolve other important evidentiary issues before trial, motions in limine are a key step in shaping the case for trial. Having obtained the admission or exclusion of evidence, the party can better prepare and present the case, beginning with voir dire.

II. Authority and Procedure for Motions in Limine

Motions in limine are derived from the inherent power of the court to manage the course of trials, as reinforced by Federal Rule of Evidence 103(c). 1 Rule 103(c) provides: "In jury cases, proceedings shall be conducted, to the extent practicable, so as to prevent inadmissible evidence from being suggested to the jury by any means, such as making statements or offers of proof or asking questions in the hearing of the jury." 2 This same principle is also embodied in Rule 611(a), 3 which provides: "The court shall exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses and presenting evidence so as to (1) make the interrogation and presentation effective for the ascertainment of the truth, (2) avoid needless consumption of time, and (3) protect witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment." 4
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