United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE (DOCS. 46, 48, 49, 50, 51,
JENNIFER L. THURSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Jesse Trevino, who is deaf, asserts that Bakersfield Police
Officer Ryan Miller used excessive force in the course of
Legal Standards Governing Motions in Limine
the Federal Rules of Evidence do not explicitly authorize in
limine rulings, the 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).
motions in limine seeking the exclusion of broad categories
of evidence are disfavored. See Sperberg v. Goodyear Tire
and Rubber Co., 519 F.2d 708, 712 (6th Cir. 1975). The
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). 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. Nevertheless, 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.
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. See
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, 530 U.S. 133, 150
the rulings on the motions in limine made here does not
preclude either party from raising the admissibility of the
evidence discussed here, if the evidence adduced at trial
demonstrate a change of circumstances that would make the
evidence admissible. In this event, the proponent of the
evidence SHALL raise the issue outside the
presence of the jury. Finally, the rulings made here are
binding on all parties and not merely to the moving party.
Plaintiff’s Motions in Limine
Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine #1 to exclude evidence not
known to Miller at the time of the use of
plaintiff seeks to exclude any evidence of which Officer
Miller was unaware at the time he decided to use force. (Doc.
48) In particular, he seeks to exclude evidence related to
the events leading up to the encounter, “including his
court appearance and arguments with family members, ”
images of the front door to the plaintiff’s apartment
with a rock nearby that is claimed to have been used by the
plaintiff to gain entry, and any information about his prior
contacts with any BPD officers including David Brantley and
Deron Miller. Id. at 4.
argue the evidence is pertinent to the plaintiff’s
damage claim, that it corroborates their position that the
plaintiff was acting erratically and to impeach the
plaintiff’s claim that he cannot hear. (Doc. 56 at 4)
officers’ conduct is evaluated from the perspective of
a reasonable officer on the scene regardless of the actual
motivation of the particular officers. Graham v.
Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 397 (1989). “Subjective
intentions play no role in ordinary, probable-cause Fourth
Amendment analysis.” Whren v. United States,
517 U.S. 806, 806 (1996). Instead, liability may not attach
unless his actions were objectively unreasonable, regardless
of the officer’s motivation. Ashcroft v.
al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731 (2011) [“the Fourth
Amendment regulates conduct rather than thoughts . . .]
other hand, what is known to the officer at the time bears on
the facts and circumstances of the event. Ruvalcaba v.
City of Los Angeles, 64 F.3d 1323, 1328 (9th Cir. 1995).
Thus, any evidence known to Ryan Miller is admissible but
information not known to him, is not.
Pictures of the rock and the damaged door
argue these pictures should be admitted because they
demonstrate that the plaintiff was attempting to break into
the apartment. (Doc. 56 at 5) However, there is no dispute
that this was the case. Likewise, there is no dispute that
Ryan Miller was told by the dispatcher that the plaintiff was
attempting to break into an apartment.
there is no showing that Ryan Miller was or was not aware
that the plaintiff attempted to gain entry into the apartment
by using a rock or that the plaintiff damaged the
apartment’s door. On the other hand, the
plaintiff’s conduct was such that it gained the
attention of a neighbor who called 911 as a result.
Court presumes that the plaintiff will testify that he
attempted to break into his apartment using a rock. If this
is the case, the pictures of the damaged door and rock are
relevant if only to allow the jury to see where the
“break-in” attempt occurred. Moreover, though the
photos are of minimal probative value, their prejudicial
effect is even slighter. Thus, the motion as to the photos is
Earlier contacts with the police
defendants note that five days before the incident, a tenant
made a report that the plaintiff was “acting
suspiciously” outside of another apartment and may have
attempted to open the front door. (Doc. 56 at 5-6) They claim
also was that he opened a package and took a blanket left on
the neighbor’s porch. Id. at 6.
defendants report that four days before the incident, the
plaintiff “loitered” near a fire hydrant on the
property and when the police arrived, he attempted to remove
his pants and shoes and told police he was going swimming.
(Doc. 56 at 6.) He was arrested on this day after the officer
discovered the plaintiff had an outstanding warrant.
of these incidents bears on whether Ryan Miller used force
appropriate to the circumstances and, therefore, may not be
introduced for this purpose. At the hearing, the
plaintiff’s counsel clarified that the plaintiff was
not claiming that the incident with Officer Miller or the
resulting physical injuries impact his ability to form
relationships-only that the remnants from the physical injury
impact, for example, whether he can pick up his grandchild.
Thus, the evidence does not bear on the question of damages
as suggested by the defendants. Thus, the motion is
GRANTED. However, in the event the plaintiff
seeks to demonstrate that the damages he suffered in the
incident impacts his relationships with others, then the
defendants would be entitled to introduce this evidence to
demonstrate the plaintiff’s ability to engage in such
Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine #2 to exclude evidence
that the plaintiff appeared to hear
plaintiff seeks to exclude evidence of a contact with
Samantha Hsu, a MET worker called to the scene to evaluate
the plaintiff after the incident. (Doc. 49 at 1) The
plaintiff reports that Ms. Hsu noted that she believed the
plaintiff was able to hear some of the questions she asked
him. Id. Likewise, the plaintiff seeks to preclude
introduction of excerpts of his own deposition which,
apparently, defendants contend bears on whether he appears to
plaintiff argues that the evidence from Ms. Hsu-who is not
qualified to determine whether the plaintiff is or is not
deaf-would constitute an attempt to offer lay opinions on a
topic reserved to an expert.
defendants argue the evidence should be admitted to impeach
the plaintiff’s claims that he is deaf. However, the
question is not whether the plaintiff is deaf but whether it
reasonably appeared to Officer Miller that the plaintiff
heard the orders Miller gave him. Moreover, it does not
appear that the defendants have a good faith belief that the
plaintiff is not, indeed, deaf. Rather it appears the
defendants would introduce the evidence only to show that in
the circumstances of the contact between Hsu and the
plaintiff or in the deposition setting, that they and Hsu
thought that the plaintiff could hear some of the questions.
These circumstances are not similar to those confronting Ryan
Miller or confronting the plaintiff at the time of his
interaction with Officer Miller. Thus, the motion is
GRANTED and the evidence may not be
introduced to demonstrate corroborate Officer Miller’s
perception that the plaintiff can hear.
Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine #3 to exclude evidence
that the plaintiff appeared toact