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George E. Jacobs, Iv v. Jeanne Woodford

January 28, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer L. Thurston United States Magistrate Judge


Before the Court are the motions in limine filed by Plaintiff George E. Jacobs ("Plaintiff") on July 2, 2013 (Doc. 84) and Defendants Martinez, David, and Masiel on July 3, 2013 (Doc. 85).


Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that in the course of an escort by defendants David and Masiel across the SHU yard on July 24, 2007, David pushed him "in a violent manner" and made "verbal threats" about what he would do to Plaintiff for continuing to pursue a lawsuit against Martinez, who was David's supervisor. (Doc. 7 at 7). Plaintiff alleges that once the escort was complete, he placed his hands through the food tray slot to have the handcuffs removed, and Masiel squeezed Plaintiff's arms while making derogatory and offensive statements. Id. at 7-8. Plaintiff asserts David removed Plaintiff's handcuffs and "intentionally smashed the tray slot door on [his] right hand causing serious injury." Id. at 8. Plaintiff asserts Martinez joined the others at the cell door and attempted to spray him with pepper spray, and told Plaintiff that he was "lucky" that he had not been 2 involved the yard escort because he would have sprayed Plaintiff "for suing him in Court." Id. Plaintiff 3 stated Martinez denied a request for medical care for the injury to his hand. Id. 4

Given these allegations, Plaintiff is proceeding on the following claims: retaliation against David, Masiel and Martinez; excessive force against David and Masiel; and deliberate indifference to 6 a serious medical need against Martinez. (Doc. 10). 7


"Although the Federal Rules of Evidence do not explicitly authorize in limine rulings, the 9 practice has developed pursuant to the district court's inherent authority to manage the course of trials." Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 40 n. 2 (1984). The Ninth Circuit explained motions in limine "allow parties to resolve evidentiary disputes ahead of trial, without first having to present potentially prejudicial evidence in front of a jury." Brodit v. Cabra, 350 F.3d 985, 1004-05 (9th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). Likewise, the Seventh Circuit found motions in limine are "an important tool available to the trial judge to ensure the expeditious and evenhanded management of the trial proceedings." Jonasson v. Lutheran Child & Family Services, 115 F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir. 1997).

Generally, motions in limine that seek exclusion of broad and unspecific categories of evidence are disfavored. SeeSperberg v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., 519 F.2d 708, 712 (6th Cir. 1975). A court "is almost always better situated during the actual trial to assess the value and utility of evidence." Wilkins v. Kmart Corp., 487 F. Supp. 2d 1216, 1218 (D. Kan. 2007). Therefore, the Sixth Circuit explained, "[A] better practice is to deal with questions of admissibility of evidence as they arise [in trial]" as opposed to ruling on a motion in limine. Sperberg, 519 F.2d at 712.

"[A] motion in limine should not be used to resolve factual disputes or weigh evidence," C & E Services, Inc. v. Ashland Inc., 539 F. Supp. 2d 316, 323 (D. D.C. 2008), because that is the province of the jury. SeeReeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).


Plaintiff seeks to preclude Defendants from introducing evidence of his criminal history, conviction, and prison disciplinary proceedings. (Doc. 84 at 1). In addition, Plaintiff seeks to prohibit Defendants from introducing this evidence for his witness, Kevin Fields ("Fields"). Id. According to Plaintiff, evidence of their convictions and disciplinary proceedings is "irrelevant to any issue before 2 the jury and would merely be offered as "bad character" evidence to garner sympathy for the 3 defendants or unfairly prejudice . . . the plaintiff." Id. at 2. 4

Whether evidence of a conviction will be admitted is governed by Federal Rules of Evidence 609(a), which provides in relevant part, 6

The following rules apply to attacking a witness's character for truthfulness by evidence of a criminal conviction:

(1) for a crime that, in the convicting jurisdiction, was punishable by death or by imprisonment for more ...

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