Motions in Limine Before Derek Chauvin Criminal Trial  

Motions in limine refer to requests to the trial court by prosecutors or defense attorneys to limit the introduction of certain evidence, anticipated questioning by opposing counsel at trial and/or anticipated arguments of opposing counsel at trial. Such motions are often based on Rule 403 of the Minnesota Rules of Evidence, which provides the following: “Although relevant, evidence may be excluded ii its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues. or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time. or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.” [1]

Both the Prosecution and Derek Chauvin have submitted such motions to the Hennepin County District Court before the commencement of trial on August 8.[2] They are summarized below.

Prosecution’s Motion

This motion seeks an order prohibiting the following: at trial:

  1. “[Impeaching] any witness with a statement from a third-party summary. . . if the witness does not adopt same as his or her prior statement.”
  2. “[Any] expert witness from testifying regarding the opinion of any other expert he or she consulted who is not testifying at trial.”
  3. “Defendant . . . arguing at trial (1) that the State must show that he intended to kill George Floyd or intended to cause him bodily harm; or (2) that the State must show ‘but for’ causation in order to establish the causation element of the charged offenses.”
  4. “[Any] argument, evidence, or testimony regarding the Minneapolis Police Department’s decision-making process in terminating Chauvin’s employment as an MPD officer . . .[or] any argument, evidence, or testimony suggesting that MPD may face civil liability stemming from George Floyd’s death.”
  5. “[Any] argument or evidence regarding changes that were made after May 25, 2020 to the MPD Policy and Procedure Manual or any other MPD training documents.”
  6. “Defendant from introducing into evidence the documents labeled Bates 002566 through 002606—a series of slides entitled ‘Excited Delirium Syndrome’—unless Defendant can lay a proper foundation for their admission.”
  7. “Defendant from relying on unauthenticated transcripts at trial, and from admitting any transcripts into evidence absent the State’s agreement.”
  8. “Defendant’s counsel from introducing, through direct or cross-examination and during opening statement and closing argument, any hearsay statement of Defendant unless the statement complies with a hearsay exception.”
  9. “Defense’s counsel from commenting at any time during the trial or during closing arguments on the failure or alleged failure of the prosecution to call a witness or introduce evidence equally available to either party.”
  10. [Repeat of # 9.]
  11. “Admission of any testimony or evidence regarding any alleged bad acts committed or allegedly committed by any witness without prior notice to the State, giving the [S]tate an opportunity to be heard and litigate its admissibility, and a prior Court ruling on its admissibility.”
  12. “Defendant’s counsel from attempting to ask any witness about any crime, act of dishonesty, or conviction related to that or another witness without prior notice to the State, giving the [S]tate the opportunity to be heard on and litigate its admissibility and a prior court ruling on its admissibility.”

Chauvin’s Motion

The motion seeks an Order to:

  1. “[Sequester] the witnesses.”
  2. “[Preclude} the State, or any of its witnesses, from referring to George Floyd as the ‘victim’ or ‘accused in this matter.”
  3. “[Preclude] the State, or any of its witnesses from referring to Derek Chauvin as the ‘defendant’ or ‘accused’ in this matter.”
  4. “[Preclude] the State from introducing any prior statements of witnesses, as they are hearsay, unless and until that witness has previously testified.”
  5. “[Require] the State to provide the defense of any documents, information and/or criminal background checks that it obtains regarding any prospective juror.”
  6. “[Direct] the State to disclose complete criminal histories of listed witnesses , including law enforcement officers.”
  7. “[Require] the State to provide the defense with any criminal background checks that it obtains regarding any prospective witness.”
  8. “[Require] the State to provide to defense counsel the substance of all conversations between Victim Witness Program personnel and any and all persons having information about this case, and disclose all Victim Witness Program records, reports, notes, files and other documents relating to contact with any and all persons with information about this case.”
  9. “[Compel] the prosecuting attorney to provide defense counsel with the substance of conversations between him, and any and all persons in the Attorney General or Hennepin County Attorney’s Office(s) having information about this case, and access to all his notes or other documents relating to her contact with all persons she intends to call as witnesses in this case and with any and all persons having information about this case.”
  10. “[Require] the State ensure that its witnesses know the limits of permissible testimony.”
  11. “[Prohibit] the State from commenting on the failure of the Defense to call a witness, particularly when the witness is equally available to both parties.”
  12. “[Prohibit] the State from asserting, in the presence of the jury, a personal belief or opinion as the credibility of a witness.”
  13. “[Prohibit] the prosecutor from offering his own personal l opinion, either directly or indirectly expressed, that the Defendant is guilty.”
  14. “[Direct] the State to instruct State witnesses that they are not to assert a personal belief or opinion as the Defendant’s guilt or innocence or whether or not the Defendant is the type of person who could commit such an offense.”
  15. “[Prohibit] the State from introducing any and all evidence or witnesses related to evidence that has not been fully disclosed, including but not limited to recorded jail calls, additional witness interviews or ongoing investigation.”
  16. “[Direct] any person listed as a witness be directed not to view any live stream coverage of the trial absent Court approval.”
  17. “[Prohibit] the State from introducing any evidence pertaining to Washington County Court File #80-CR-20-2813, wherein the Defendant is accused [of] various tax related crimes.”
  18. “{Preclude] witness police officers from speculating or rendering an opinion on how they would have handled the arrest of Mr. Floyd differently.”
  19. “[Preclude] testimony about any police policy . . .that was not in effect at the time of Mr. Floyd’s arrest or any subsequent changes in policies.”
  20. “[Preclude] testimony about medical examinations performed by anyone other than the Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Baker.”
  21. “[Preclude] the speculative testimony from Genevieve Hanson that she believes that if she had intervened, she could have saved Mr. Floyd.”
  22. “[Preclude] the testimony of Donald Williams as to his training, experience and/or expertise in mixed martial arts, boxing or other training on the grounds that is irrelevant and overly prejudicial [and the] foundation for expertise cannot be established nor has it been disclosed . . . [and that his] training/experience is not the same as the training of Minneapolis Police Officers.”
  23. “[Preclude] any member of the Minneapolis Fire Department and paramedics from testifying as to cause and manner of Mr. Floyd’s death or any contributing factors to Mr. Floyd’s death.”
  24. “[Preclude] the state from questioning witnesses about aspects of their training that have not been fully disclosed, including C.P.R. training and training on excited delirium.”
  25. “[Preclude] the state from questioning or commenting on Chauvin’s right to remain silent, including his pre-Miranda right to remain silent.”
  26. “[Preclude] testimony about a blue line or wall of silence or about the officer’s communications with the Minneapolis Police Federation or the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.”
  27. “[Preclude] any reference to the David Cornelius Smith Case for lack of relevance and potential to mislead and/or prejudice the jury.”
  28. “[Require] the state to (a) Disclose which witnesses the State actually intends to call to testify during the trial at least 2 weeks prior to trial; (b) . . . disclose the witnesses they intend to call the next day prior to adjournment; (c) [keep] all witnesses subpoenaed by the State under subpoena, whether issued by the State or the Defense, until the close of all evidence or agreement by the parties to release the witness from the Court’s subpoena; (d) Require the State to identify which Minneapolis Police Department training materials it intends to introduce or rely upon at trial; (e)Require the State to identify which Personnel Records they may seek to introduce or elicit testimony regarding.”
  29. “[Preclude] any expert witness from referencing their personal clinical experiences and/or anecdotal testimony on the grounds that such information is neither peer reviewed nor available for inspection/verification.”
  30. “[Preclude] any expert from likening the death of George Floyd to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the ground that such analogy is prejudicial.”
  31. “[Preclude] the State from playing, publishing or otherwise relying upon the statements of co-defendants Thao and Lane on the grounds that the Defense would not be permitted to cross-examine these co-defendants in violation of his Constitutional rights.”
  32. “[Preclude] the entirety of the proffered testimony of Dr. Sarah Vinson (psychiatric evaluation of George Floyd) on the grounds that the evaluation is speculative, based upon multiple levels of inadmissible hearsay, fails to meet scientific standards, offers no assistance to the jury, or so favors one party.” [Alternatively, provide] an in camera review of her report and a Frye-Mack hearing to address the admissibility thereof.”
  33. “[Limit] the scope of ‘spark of life’ testimony to its permissible bounds [and if those bounds are exceeded, permit the Defendant] to introduce evidence of [Mr. Floyd’s] prior bad acts.”
  34. “[Permit] the Defendant to supplement the record by offer of proof with additional information regarding George Floyd’s May 2019 arrest and hospitalization.”
  35. “[Permit] testimony of George Floyd’s opiate addiction and medical records pertaining thereto, including his hospitalization following his May 2019 arrest.”
  36. “[Preclude] any evidence of or reference to citizen complaints filed against Mr. Chauvin in his capacity as a police officer or investigated by the Minneapolis Police Department whether sustained or deemed unfounded.”
  37. “[Require] the state to disclose any information it obtains relevant to any and all identified expert witnesses from the National Prosecutor’s College.”

Conclusion

 Although this blogger is a retired attorney, he never practiced criminal law and has no experience with motions in limine. But he is amazed by the complexity of these motions and the administrative difficulty  of complying therewith if they are granted.

=====================================

 

[1] Minn. Rules of Evidence 403;Minnesota County Attorneys Council, Re: Trial Motions in Criminal Cases, Ch. XVI (June 1980).

[2] State’s Motions in Limine, State V. Chauvin, Court File NO. 27-CR-20-12646 Feb. 8, 2021); State’s Memorandum of Law in Support of Motions in Limine, State V. Chauvin, Court File NO. 27-CR-20-12646 Feb. 8, 2021); Defendant’s Motions in Limine, State V. Chauvin, Court File NO. 27-CR-20-12646 Feb. 8, 2021). The above documents can be downloaded from the following Hennepin County District Court website for these cases: https://www.mncourts.gov/media/StateofMinnesotavDerekChauvin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published by

dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

One thought on “Motions in Limine Before Derek Chauvin Criminal Trial  ”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s