Tuesday, February 27, 2007

S.C. Court of Appeals issues a reminder on motions in limine and error preservation

In State v. Govan, Govan argued that the trial court erred in denying his motions to suppress both his show-up identification as unduly suggestive and unreliable and the resulting in-court identification as tainted by the prior suggestive show-up. What really interests me in this case is the error preservation issue. Govan's attorney moved in limine to suppress the identifications of his client, and this motion was denied. However, the lawyer did not object when the initial witness following opening statements presented the identifications to the jury. Hence, the State argued that the identification issue was not properly preserved. The Court of Appeals disagreed. Because no evidence was presented between the ruling and the witness' testimony, there was no basis for the trial court to change its ruling. Thus, the motion was really not a motion in limine. The trial court's ruling in this instance was in no way preliminary, but to the contrary, was a final ruling.

The Court went on to find the show-up identification was not unduly suggestive.

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