Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine

Janet Gershen-Siegel

Jespah (Janet Gershen-Siegel) has been a fan of Star Trek since probably the first set of reruns of The Original Series. She has an eclectic background, including an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, a JD (she practiced insurance defense law for a few years in New York and is a lot happier since she retired from that in 1990), and a MS in Interactive Media, which is a real-live social media degree.

Along the way, she has about a decade and a half of data analysis work under her belt and currently works as a blog coordinator for a high-end wedding blog and also as a blogger for hire (topics include diverse subjects like ad retargeting but also the nursing job market), and has a shingle out to work on social media presence, with a focus on independent authors as she is also a published science fiction author. Plus, she has been a community manager for a large Q & A website since 2002, which is before that existed as a job title.

She was raised on Long Island so, when she is riled up, the accent gallops back out and she can sound like Fran Drescher with a law degree. She lives in Boston with her husband of over 20 years and more computers than they need.

She can always be bribed with pie.

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine

I have the Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine.

As has been the case all along, these documents are long and numerous. I will endeavor to keep my analysis brief as I’ve already slain many pixels regarding this matter.

As always, I have paid for these documents, which are a matter of public record. You and I are all members of the public, and we have the right to know. Furthermore, if I miss anything or go over it too quickly for your liking, please feel free to drop me a line at the Contact page and I will endeavor to answer you in a timely fashion.

However, first things first: what the hell is a Motion in Limine, anyway? Essentially, a motion in limine works to exclude evidence from trial. Have you ever sat on a jury? If you have, then you may have noticed a few items which you may have felt were missing, and then court just sort of glossed over them (sort of like, “Don’t worry your pretty little head over that.“). Sometimes, the information or documents truly exist, but they’ve been excluded.

Because there are a ton of these, I’ve divided them into plaintiffs’ and defense’s motions. Many of the supporting case law stays the same from motion to motion. Hence we will instead look at what the motions are targeting for exclusion. Furthermore, they all come with declarations by attorney Jennifer Jason, and many of those declarations are heavily redacted. And finally, they all have attached proposed orders, which the judge can accept, reject, or alter. Unless anyone feels the burning need to see any of those, for the sake of brevity I won’t include them.

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #1

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #1

First of all, plaintiffs seek to exclude:

Defendants’ altered financial statement for Axanar Productions, which defendant
Alec Peters created after his first deposition in this case, as well as testimony
regarding such financial statement and any testimony or evidence regarding
financial transactions by Axanar Productions and Peters subsequent to the
commencement of the litigation.

What ends up most interesting about this one is that (a) plaintiffs refer to it as hearsay (and they’re right; however, numerous hearsay exceptions exist) and (b) plaintiffs also seek to exclude any post-litigation transactions reflected therein.

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #2

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #2

And then in this one, plaintiffs seek to exclude any scripts created after the start of this litigation. Furthermore, they want to exclude all testimony regarding same. Their reasoning is as follows:

Scripts created after this litigation was filed bear
no relevance on this case, because Plaintiffs have not filed suit based on these
scripts.

Accompanying this motion is an exhibit we have seen numerous times, this Facebook post:

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine #2, Exhibit B, Page 2

Plaintiffs Motion in Limine #2, Exhibit B, Page 2

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #3

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #3

In addition, plaintiffs seek to exclude:

… the testimony of J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin and their public statements regarding the
litigation because they are not the copyright owners of the infringed works, or
authorized to speak on behalf of the copyright owners, and their testimony or
personal opinions of fan films in general are irrelevant, particularly given the fact
that at the time of these statements they had not seen all of the Defendants’ works at
issue.

Why? Because this seems to bear out theories put forth by me. In May.

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #4

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #4

Furthermore, plaintiffs seek to exclude the testimony of Reece Watkins, referring to it as –

… primarily inappropriate lay opinion, and is otherwise hearsay and, anecdotal and of
no probative value.

This motion also includes the Watkins declaration as Exhibit A, which was originally presented as a part of the Defense Summary Judgment motion. And this motion also includes a pair of Watkins blog posts. Plaintiffs’ Motion in Limine #4, Exhibit B comes from 2016. Plaintiffs’ Motion in Limine #4, Exhibit C dates from 2015 and includes (in the Comments section), Watkins’s own statement about his credentials.

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #5

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #5

And then in this one, plaintiffs seek to exclude testimony and documents by Jonathan Lane. Readers might recall the defense has attempted to have Mr. Lane qualified as an expert. Furthermore, this motion includes, as Exhibit A, Lane’s declaration, which also comes from the Defense Summary Judgment motion. Additionally, it includes the Executive Summary and History of Fan Films document, which also hail from the Defense Summary Judgment motion.

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #6

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #6

In addition, plaintiffs seek to exclude testimony and documents regarding Star Trek fan films. Plaintiffs seek to exclude this information because (a) defense said they were not a fan film and (b) whatever action plaintiffs took (or didn’t take) as against other productions is immaterial. Plaintiffs add:

… an analysis of each of these fan films would result in the conducting of a miniature
trial regarding each fan film, or dozens of trials within a trial.

And this motion also includes the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines and another copy of the Lane Executive Summary and History of Fan Films document.

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #7

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #7

Furthermore, plaintiffs seek to exclude any testimony and documentation regarding defendant Peters’s unrelated work on Star Trek props. However, it does come with an interesting exhibit, which consists of an email chain from June 13, 2012. In that email chain, defendant Peters stated:

This is exactly why you need me as your archivist because I would not treat your stuff so shabbily.

The email also contains a signature line with information on Propworx.

Motion in Limine #7, Page 2

Motion in Limine #7, Page 2

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #8

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #8

And then in this one, plaintiffs seek to exclude –

all testimony and documents regarding events after the filing of the original
complaint in this litigation, including but not limited to, any reaction to this
litigation by fans or others, any comments on the litigation, any fan reaction to
guidelines, any statements by third parties such as J.J. Abrams or Justin Lin
regarding the litigation or fan films, any post-litigation scripts, and any financial
information prepared by Defendants after that date.

Hence we have another motion to exclude Abrams and Lin statements. This motion includes a July 21, 2016 tweet whereby defendant Peters exhorted his friends to go see Star Trek: Beyond, due to perceived support by Abrams and Lin. Furthermore, it contains a set of tweets from September, 2016 regarding Beyond.

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #9

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #9

In addition, plaintiffs seek to exclude the testimony of Christian Tregellis. This includes the expert report, another exhibit coming from the Defense Summary Judgment motion. It further includes documents from Axanar’s Indiegogo fundraising page, Motion in Limine #9, Exhibit C and Motion in Limine #9, Exhibit D refer to Axanar as not being a fan film and also admitting it’s not licensed. Then the Motion in Limine #9, Exhibit E and Motion in Limine #9, Exhibit F are both Facebook posts. Motion in Limine #9, Exhibit G consists of an excerpt from an interview with TrekMovie. And Motion in Limine #9, Exhibit H consists of excerpts from various podcasts.

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #10

Axanar Plaintiffs Motions in Limine to Exclude Evidence #10

Furthermore, plaintiffs seek to exclude the testimony of proposed expert Henry Jenkins. Then the Motion in Limine #10, Exhibit A consists of a Jenkins blog post relating a conversation with Rebecca Tushnet. And then Exhibit B consists of the Jenkins report, which we first saw in the Defense Summary Judgment motionMotion in Limine #10, Exhibit C consists of Jenkin’s USC profile. Furthermore, Exhibits E and F consist of the Indiegogo pages we’ve already seen in motion #9. And then Exhibits G and H consist of the pair of Facebook posts we’ve already seen, also in motion #9. Finally, we get to Exhibit I, an Axanar tweet wherein defendant Peters again refers to Axanar as an indie film:

Motion in Limine #10, Exhibit I, Page 2

Motion in Limine #10, Exhibit I, Page 2

However, what is of most interest is within the motion itself. On Page 6, the motion strikes right at the heart of the Jenkins report, stating:

Prof. Jenkins’ second distinction is even more absurd. He remarks that seeing
a female starship captain in Prelude to Axanar contrasts with the “promise of female
equality that Star Trek producers have often failed to deliver upon.” Prof. Jenkins is
apparently unaware that Plaintiffs produced a seven-season television series
starring Kate Mulgrew in the lead role as the female captain of the titular starship
Voyager. Jason Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. 4. Thus, not only are Prof. Jenkins’ opinions lacking
in any scientific or technical basis, they are uninformed and incorrect.

Emphasis theirs. There’s plenty more; I urge you to read this one in particular.

Axanar Plaintiffs Leave to File Document Under Seal

Axanar Plaintiffs Leave to File Document Under Seal

And then in this one, plaintiffs seek to file certain documents under seal, including supporting declarations and the like.

What’s Next?

Finally, next up I have the defense’s own motions, so please stay tuned.

Janet Gershen-Siegel

Jespah (Janet Gershen-Siegel) has been a fan of Star Trek since probably the first set of reruns of The Original Series. She has an eclectic background, including an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, a JD (she practiced insurance defense law for a few years in New York and is a lot happier since she retired from that in 1990), and a MS in Interactive Media, which is a real-live social media degree. Along the way, she has about a decade and a half of data analysis work under her belt and currently works as a blog coordinator for a high-end wedding blog and also as a blogger for hire (topics include diverse subjects like ad retargeting but also the nursing job market), and has a shingle out to work on social media presence, with a focus on independent authors as she is also a published science fiction author. Plus, she has been a community manager for a large Q & A website since 2002, which is before that existed as a job title. She was raised on Long Island so, when she is riled up, the accent gallops back out and she can sound like Fran Drescher with a law degree. She lives in Boston with her husband of over 20 years and more computers than they need. She can always be bribed with pie.

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