Common Pretrial Motions

Cindy Best

Rule 2(B) Motions: 

ARFLP Rule 2 provides that all relevant evidence is admissible unless a party files with the Court a notice at least forty-five (45) days prior to a hearing or trial requiring strict compliance with all or part of the Arizona Rules of Evidence.[1] Many times, if it is to the benefit of the party or the party’s counsel’s strategy and litigation style, a party may move the Court to require “strict compliance” with the Arizona Rules of Evidence. Notwithstanding such motion, Rule 2(B)(3) permit the Court to admit “records of regularly conducted activity . . . without testimony of a custodian or other qualified witness as it its authenticity” and to admit or consider “[a]ny report, document, or standardized form required to be submitted to the court for the current hearing or trial.” While a party can challenge a record or report from being admitted, should they meet the broad requirements of Rule 2(B), it is unlikely the Court will disallow or not consider such evidence.

 

Motions to Continue

It is important for the parties and their counsel to review the Court’s Minute Entries, as very often the judge will list specific requirements and deadlines regarding pretrial motions, including whether a party believes he or she needs additional time at trial. Motions to Continue a hearing or trial, traditionally if made more than thirty (30) days in advance of the hearing or trial, require good cause for the Court to grant such a continuance. If the hearing or trial is in less than thirty (30) days, the Court may require extraordinary cause to reset the hearing or trial. Extraordinary cause is extraordinarily rare and Motions to Continue relying on such cause are rarely granted, unless stipulated by the parties.

 

Motions in Limine

A motion in limine is a motion from one party requesting the Court to limit or prevent certain evidence from being presented at trial by the other party. Motions in limine are rare in family court. The Court’s Minute Entry will likely specify when motions in limine must be submitted prior to trial.

 

Pretrial Statements

The Pretrial Statement is almost always required prior to a trial or evidentiary hearing. The Court’s Minute Entry setting the trial date typically will detail what is necessary and when it is due, which is often seven (7) days prior to trial. The Court may order the parties to file a Joint Pretrial Statement, though these are not always possible if the opposing party or his or her counsel are uncooperative. The Court will usually accept Separate Pretrial Statements from the parties. The Court may sanction a party for failing to file a Pretrial Statement. Always pay close attention to the Minute Entry—but the following are usually ordered as part of the Pretrial Statement:

  • Opening Statement, if the parties wish to make one;
  • Updated Affidavit of Financial Information;
  • Current and detailed inventory and appraisal of the property and assets of the parties;
  • Proposal of how the property and assets should be divided and the proposed disposition of each issue before the Court;
  • Child Support Worksheet completed pursuant to the Statewide Child Support Guidelines (if necessary).

It is beneficial to use the Pretrial Statement to propose the client’s desired outcome to every issue in front of the Court. If legal decision-making or parenting time are in front of the Court, the Pretrial Statement can be a great place to list the “Best Interest Factors” and apply the relevant facts to advocate on behalf of your client. Feel free to give us a call to receive a redacted example of one of our prior pretrial statements.

[1] The Rule delineates specifically that such relevant evidence will be admissible provided, however, that the Court “shall exclude evidence if its probative value is outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, needless presentation of cumulative evidence, lack of reliability or failure to adequately and timely disclose same.” Rule 2(B)(2).

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