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Lamont Shepard v. R. Perez

April 24, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara A. McAuliffe United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff Lamont Shepard ("Plaintiff") 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 Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim for excessive force against Defendants L. A. Martinez, R. Perez, P. Garcia, J. Soto, E. De la Cruz and A. Trevino arising from an alleged incident that occurred in the Program Office at Corcoran State Prison on August 4, 2009. (ECF No. 64.) A jury trial is scheduled for May 6, 2013.

On March 29, 2013, Defendants filed their motions in limine. (ECF No. 93.) Plaintiff filed his opposition to the motions in limine on April 8, 2013. (ECF No. 95.) The motions in limine were heard before the Honorable Barbara A. McAuliffe on April 19, 2013. Plaintiff appeared telephonically on his own behalf. Diana Esquivel appeared telephonically on behalf of Defendants.

1 I.Motions in Limine 2 A party may use a motion in limine to exclude inadmissible or prejudicial evidence before it is 3 actually introduced at trial. See Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 40 n.2 (1984). "[A] motion in 4 limine is an important tool available to the trial judge to ensure the expeditious and evenhanded 5 management of the trial proceedings." Jonasson v. Lutheran Child and Family Services, 115 F.3d 436, 6 440 (7th Cir. 1997). A motion in limine allows the parties to resolve evidentiary disputes before trial 7 and avoids potentially prejudicial evidence being presented in front of the jury. Brodit v. Cambra, 350 8 F.3d 985, 1004-05 (9th Cir. 2003). 9 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.

II.Defendants' Motion in Limine #1

Defendants seek to preclude Plaintiff from offering any evidence concerning his current medical conditions or offering opinions or making inferences whether his current conditions were caused or are related to this incident. Defendants argue that Plaintiff lacks medical expertise to offer opinions or inferences regarding the nature and extent of his alleged injuries or to interpret medical records and imaging studies. Fed. R. Evid. 701. Defendants do not seek to preclude Plaintiff from testifying about what he experienced and felt as a result of the August 2009 incident, what he did in response to those physical symptoms, and what he communicated to his doctors. However, Defendants assert that Plaintiff cannot testify regarding a diagnosis, prognosis, opinions, inferences, or causation of his alleged injuries because he has no medical expertise, training or education.

Plaintiff responds that he wishes to testify and to introduce medical records to show injuries caused by Defendants in August 2009. Plaintiff contends that this is relevant evidence pursuant to Fed. R. Evid. 402.

1 At the hearing, the parties stipulated to the admission of Plaintiff's medical records, which are 2 identified as Defendants' exhibits 6(a)-(ee) in the pretrial order dated March 19, 2013. (ECF No. 91, 3 p. 15.) Based on the stipulation regarding medical records, Defendants' motion in limine is DENIED 4 as moot.

5 III.Defendants' Motion in Limine #2

6 Defendants seek an order precluding Plaintiff from making any reference to defendants, claims 7 or events that were dismissed or are irrelevant to his claim for excessive force. Defendants believe 8 that testimony and evidence regarding dismissed claims and parties should be precluded because such 9 testimony may confuse the jury and may unduly consume time. Fed. R. Evid. 403.

1. July 2009 Incident

Defendants are primarily concerned that Plaintiff will seek to introduce evidence and testimony regarding an alleged incident that occurred on July 28, 2009, during which Plaintiff contends that Defendant Martinez threatened him. Defendants concede that Plaintiff should be permitted to provide some "brief and limited" testimony of his purported interaction with Defendant Martinez in July 2009. However, Defendants believe that allowing Plaintiff to delve into the details of the July incident will confuse the jury and waste time. Plaintiff counters that the July 2009 incident is relevant and that he should be allowed to give full details of the threat.

Both parties appear to agree that Plaintiff should be allowed to testify regarding the alleged threat of assault by Defendant Martinez on July 2009. This evidence is clearly relevant to Plaintiff's assertion that Defendant Martinez carried out this threat in August 2009. Fed. R. Evid. 401. ...

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