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In re Contreras

August 4, 2008

TERRI CONTRERAS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS GUARDIAN AD LITEM FOR MINOR PLAINTIFF
D.C., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
J.D. ORNELAS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

Pending are Plaintiffs' and Defendant's respective motions in limine, filed July 29, 2008. Both sides filed oppositions on July 31, 2008.

I. Plaintiffs' Motions in Limine

A. Motion to Exclude Evidence of Prior Arrest, Moving Violations and Traffic Infractions

Plaintiffs seek exclusion of evidence "of a prior arrest of Plaintiff Terri Contreras ["Contreras"] that occurred in the 1980s, for a warrant from an unpaid speeding ticket," arguing admission would violate Federal Rules of Evidence 403 and 404(a). (Pls.' Mot. at 1:24-25.)

Plaintiffs also seek exclusion of "evidence of traffic infractions and moving violations by Plaintiff Contreras unrelated to the subject-incident of Plaintiffs' lawsuit . . . ." (Id. at 2:21-22.) Plaintiffs argue this evidence should be barred under Federal Rules of Evidence ("Rule") 403 and 404(a).

Defendant opposes the motion, arguing "[e]xperience and familiarity with a prior arrest by a peace officer is directly relevant to Contreras's claimed [emotional] distress during the arrest" and therefore is admissible "to assist the jury in determining the extent of damages suffered for mental anguish and emotional distress." (Def.'s Opp'n at 2:3-4, 7-9.) Plaintiffs concede that "[t]he only potential probative value of such evidence could relate to Plaintiff [Contreras's] damages."

As stated in Bryan v. Jones, 519 F.2d 44, 46 (5th Cir. 1975), Defendant "should [be] given an opportunity to develop all factual element[] . . . related to damages. One such element is the suffering caused by the very fact of incarceration . . . [T]his mental anguish may be much less for the recidivist than for one incarcerated for the first time." Since Plaintiffs have not shown this evidence should be excluded under Rule 403, this portion of the motion is denied.

Plaintiffs also move for exclusion of "traffic infractions and moving violations unrelated to the subject-incident." (Pls.' Mot. at 2:21-22.) Defendant counters that "Contreras's claimed distress during the arrest in this case" is relevant. (Def.'s Opp'n at 2:16-17.) This evidence has not been shown to have sufficient probative value to justify admission, in light of Rule 403 considerations. Therefore, this portion of Plaintiffs' motion is granted.

B. Motion to Exclude Evidence of Use of Controlled Substances Unrelated to the Incident Arrest

Plaintiffs seek exclusion of "evidence of any alleged use of controlled substances by Plaintiff Contreras unrelated to the subject-incidence arrest . . . ." (Pls.' Mot. at 3:7-8.) Defendant does not oppose this motion. This motion is granted.

C. Motion to Exclude Evidence and Witnesses by Defendant not Disclosed or Otherwise Made Known to Plaintiffs

This motion is denied since it unclear whether what is argued concerns ...


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