The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara A. McAuliffe United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS IN LIMINE (ECF Nos. 167, 180, 181, 182, 196, 199, 246, 247 and 250)
Plaintiff Troas V. Barnett is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action is proceeding on the third amended complaint against Defendants Martin Gamboa, Angel Duran, and Manuel Torres for excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and against Defendant Torres for failure to intervene in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The parties have consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. A jury trial is set for January 22, 2013.
Plaintiff's motions in limine were heard on January 15, 2013, before the Honorable Barbara A McAuliffe, United States Magistrate Judge. Plaintiff appeared telephonically on his own behalf. Janine Jeffrey appeared telephonically on behalf of Defendants Gamboa, Duran and Torres.
A party may use a motion in limine to exclude inadmissible or prejudicial evidence before it is actually introduced at trial. See Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 40 n.2 (1984). "[A] motion in limine is an important tool available to the trial judge to ensure the expeditious and evenhanded management of the trial proceedings." Jonasson v. Lutheran Child and Family Services, 115 F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir. 1997). A motion in limine allows the parties to resolve evidentiary disputes before trial and avoids potentially prejudicial evidence being presented in front of the jury. Brodit v. Cambra, 350 F.3d 985, 1004-05 (9th Cir. 2003).
Motions in limine that exclude broad categories of evidence are disfavored, and such issues are better dealt with during trial as the admissibility of evidence arises. Sperberg v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Co., 519 F.2d 708, 712 (6th Cir. 1975). Additionally, some evidentiary issues are not accurately and efficiently evaluated by the trial judge in a motion in limine and it is necessary to defer ruling until trial when the judge can better estimate the impact of the evidence on the jury. Jonasson, 115 F.3d at 440.
B. Plaintiff's Motions in Limine
1. Motion in Limine to Produce MRI of Plaintiff's Skull (ECF No. 167)
Plaintiff moves to have Defendants produce a December 15, 2005 MRI of his head taken by Mario Deguchi. During the pretrial hearing on October 11, 2012, the Court ruled that this motion in limine would be addressed during the second phase of trial, if any, regarding damages. At this time, the Court DEFERS ruling on Plaintiff's motion in limine to produce the MRI until the second phase of trial, if any, regarding damages.
2. Motion in Limine to Exclude Defendants' Exhibits (ECF No. 180)
Plaintiff moves to exclude certain of Defendants' exhibits on the grounds that they are not relevant in this action and that they are not admissible character evidence. These exhibits include Program Status Reports, Abstracts of Judgment and Rules Violation Reports.
Defendants' Exhibit 2 - Program Status Report ("PSR") effective November 3, 2003, and Program Status Report updates effective November 6 and November 10, 2003
The November 3, 2003 PSR indicates as follows: On March 27, 2003, two members of the Fresno Bulldogs gang murdered a Southern Hispanic inmate by bludgeoning him with a weapon. On September 10, 2003, members of the Southern Hispanics, in an attempt to incite a riot, committed a battery on a correctional officer. On October 6, 2003, all inmates except Southern Hispanics and Bulldogs were returned to normal programing. On October 7, 2003, a Mexican National inmate committed a battery on a Northern Hispanic inmate. As a result Mexican National inmates were placed on lockdown. On November 3, 2003, the Plan of Operations was updated to allow White and Mexican National Inmates not housed in C-4 to return to normal program. The PSR identifies a modified program affecting Black inmates in C-7, White inmates in C-4 and Hispanic inmates (Bulldogs, Mexican Nationals in C-4 and Southern Hispanics). As part of the modified program, showers were to be done as "cell mates together own tier," which was described as lockdown showers for Blacks in C-7, Whites and Mexican Nationals in C-4, all Bulldogs and Southern Hispanics.
The November 6, 2003 PSR indicates as follows: On November 4, 2003, a Black inmate committed a battery on a correctional officer.
The November 10, 2003 PSR indicates as follows: On November 9, 2003, three Northern Hispanic inmates committed battery on a Mexican National inmate. Northern Hispanic inmates were being placed on lockdown pending a threat assessment. The Plan of Operations was updated to allow White and Mexican National inmates housed in C-4 to return to normal program and to place Northern Hispanic Inmates on lockdown.
Plaintiff alleges that these PSR documents are not relevant because he is African American and these incidents involved Hispanic inmates. Plaintiff also argues the reports are not the product of first hand knowledge and that evidence of other crimes is not admissible character evidence. Defendants agree to withdraw all but the November 3, 2003 PSR. Defendants contend this PSR is relevant because it explains the reason Plaintiff was ordered to shower with his cell mate on November 4, 2003.
"Evidence is relevant if: (a) it has a tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action." Fed. R. Evid. 401. Evidence that is not relevant is not admissible. Fed. R. Evid. 402. Relevant evidence may be excluded "if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence." Fed. R. Evid. 403.
Plaintiff's motion in limine as to the November 3, 2003 PSR is DENIED. Defendants, however, will need to establish the foundation that the program applied to all inmates. If that is established, the PSR is relevant as to why Plaintiff was ordered to shower with his cell mate on November 4, 2003. Plaintiff's reported refusal to shower preceded a verbal exchange with Defendant Torres and the incident with Defendants Gamboa and Duran.
As Defendants' have agreed to withdraw the remaining PSRs dated November 6, 2003 and November 10, 2003, Plaintiff's motion in limine as to these PSRs is DENIED AS MOOT.
Defendants' Exhibit 3- Abstracts of Judgment for Plaintiff Barnett: (1) Attempted Burglary conviction dated 5/9/95 for 25 years to life; (2) Prisoner Possession of Weapon conviction dated 4/22/09 for four years: (3) Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Robbery conviction dated 9/1/89 for four years (concurrent).
Plaintiff argues that evidence of other crimes in not admissible character evidence (Fed. R. Evid. 403), that inquiry into prior bad acts is not permissible (Fed. R. Evid. 608) and that Defendants cannot introduce evidence of any convictions more than 10 years old (Fed. R. Evid. 609). Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks to bar introduction of these abstracts of judgment.
Defendants counter that the abstracts of judgment regarding Plaintiff's convictions should be deemed admissible for purposes of credibility. Defendants contend that evidence demonstrating a witness has been convicted of a felony is admissible to attack the character or propensity for truthfulness of the witness. Fed. R. Evid. 609(a)(1). Defendants further contend that evidence a witness has been convicted of any crime which involves an act of dishonesty or a false statement is admissible regardless of Rule 403. Fed. R. Evid. 609(a)(2). Defendants explain that they do not seek admission of the details of Plaintiff's crimes. Rather, they seek to introduce the name of the conviction, its date and the sentence imposed. Defendants claim it is ...