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Williams v. Williams

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

July 8, 2013

ISAIAH N. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
DEBRA WILLIAMS, Defendant.

ORDER RESOLVING MOTIONS IN LIMINE

CLAUDIA WILKEN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Isaiah Williams, an inmate at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP), brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Defendant Debra Williams. The Court held a pretrial conference and heard arguments regarding the parties' motions in limine on June 26, 2013. After considering the parties' oral argument and submissions, the Court now issues the following rulings:

I. Plaintiff's Motions in Limine

A. MIL No. 1: Motion to Exclude References to Plaintiff's Past Criminal Convictions and Rule Violations

This motion is GRANTED. Defendant may not present evidence or argument that identifies the specific nature or circumstances of Plaintiff's conviction or any evidence relating to Plaintiff's past rule violations. Defendant may, however, present evidence and argument that (1) Plaintiff was convicted of a violent felony and (2) the unit where Plaintiff currently resides is used to house violent prisoners. Defendant may also present evidence or argument pertaining to the rules violation report arising from the August 16, 2006 incident which is the subject of this action.

B. MIL No. 2: Motion to Exclude References to Plaintiff's Alleged Gang Affiliation

This motion is DENIED. Plaintiff's membership in a white supremacist gang is a key issue in this case, as Plaintiff's own expert asserts in his report. See Pl.'s Ex. 20, R. Subia Report, at ¶ 30 ("In the present case, the risk of harm was heightened due to the specific types of inmates, Nazi Low Rider (white supremacy) and Black Guerilla Family (Black)."). Concealing this fact from the jury would deny them access to relevant information while creating administrative difficulties for both parties. Cf. United States v. Price , 13 F.3d 711, 720 (3d Cir. 1994) (upholding a district court's decision to admit conversations in which a party used racial epithets because "it would have been virtually impossible to redact this or the other conversations without altering their substance").

C. MIL No. 3: Motion to Exclude References to Plaintiff's Alleged Nickname, "Sinner"

This motion is GRANTED. Plaintiff's nickname is prejudicial and serves no probative value here. All references to Plaintiff's nickname should be redacted from any otherwise admissible exhibits.

D. MIL No. 4: Motion to Exclude References to and Evidence of Plaintiff's Tattoos

This motion is DENIED. The two photographs Plaintiff seeks to exclude do not reveal the tattoo of his nickname and include mostly blurry images of his other tattoos. To the extent any of his tattoos are visible in these photographs, they are no less relevant and no more prejudicial than any other evidence of Plaintiff's alleged membership in a white supremacist gang.

E. MIL No. 5: Procedure for Exchange of Evidence Relating to MILs No. 1-4

This motion is DENIED as unnecessary.

F. MIL No. 6: Motion to Exclude Evidence or Argument Relating to Prior Decisions by ...


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