Legal Memorandum: Motion in Limine in MN

Issue: What is the purpose of a motion in limine?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Motion in limine; Relevant evidence
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 270 Minn. 86; 132 N.W.2d 711; 664 N.W.2d 414; 634 N.W.2d 401
Cited Statutes: Minn. R. Evid. 402
Date: 10/01/2012

The purpose of a motion in limine is to prevent “injection into trial of matters which are irrelevant, inadmissible and prejudicial.”  Hebrink v. Farm Bur. Life Ins. Co., 664 N.W.2d 414, 418 (Minn. Ct. App. 2003) (quoting Black’s Law Dictionary 1013 (6th ed. 1991)).  All relevant evidence is admissible, except as otherwise provided by the United States or Minnesota Constitution, the Minnesota Rules of Evidence, or by other rules that apply in the courts of this state.  Minn. R. Evid.  402.

“Relevant evidence” is very broadly construed.  It is defined as evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the case more or less probable than it would be without the evidence.  Id. at R. 401.  Rule 401 “adopts a liberal as opposed to restrictive approach to the question of relevancy. If the offer has any tendency to make the existence of a fact of consequence more or less probable than it would be without the evidence it is relevant.”  Id., 1977 Committee Comment (emphasis added).  Even “[a] slight probative tendency is sufficient under rule 401.”  Id.  Moreover, “[t]he fact to be established need not be an ultimate fact or a vital fact.  It need only be a fact that is of some consequence to the disposition of the litigation.”  Id. (emphasis added). 

The Committee Comments to the Minnesota rule on relevant evidence further explain that this “liberal approach to relevancy […]

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