Specific Objection Must Immediately Follow Inadmissible Evidence

The Alabama Supreme Court reiterated that the denial of a motion in limine does not preserve an objection to evidence for appellate review. In denying the motion, the trial court signals that it will rule on the matter if it arises at trial. To obtain appellate review of an evidentiary objection at trial, the party opposing the evidence must make "a timely objection …, stating the specific ground of objection, if the specific ground was not apparent from the context. Rule 103, Ala. R. Evid.” Baldwin County Electric Membership Corporation v. City of Fairhope, Nos. 1060475, 1060545 (Ala. Feb 2, 2008), modified on rehearing (June 13, 2008).

At issue was the admission of testimony concerning an alleged oral agreement about whether Fairhope or Baldwin County Electric would supply electricity to certain areas. The trial court denied a motion in limine that requested that the oral service-territory agreement not be mentioned at trial. When the first witness was asked about the agreement during trial, Baldwin’s counsel did not object. Baldwin did object during the examination of a subsequent witness and asked the trial court for a standing objection. The Alabama Supreme Court held that, “Baldwin failed to timely object to the introduction of the evidence of the alleged oral agreement, and Baldwin’s failure to timely object to this evidence, alone, is sufficient to preclude appellate review of this issue.” The Court also noted that Baldwin did not effectively argue in its brief that the alleged erroneous admission of evidence of the oral agreement prejudiced it. “The burden is on Baldwin to do so.”