United States District Court, E.D. California
GARLAND E. BURRELL, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
United States of America (the “Government”) and
defendant Willie McNeal (“Defendant” or
“McNeal”) each filed in limine motions, including
evidence, concerning the impending jury trial scheduled to
commence on April 18, 2017.
has been indicted by a grand jury with one count of
assaulting a person within the territorial jurisdiction of
the United States, under Title 18, United States Code,
Section 118(a)(6). Indictment 1:19-22, 2:1-2, ECF No. 1.
moves in limine for an order ruling that Defendant is allowed
to produce evidence at trial that he acted in self-defense
when he fought the victim. Def.'s Mot. in Lim.
(“Def.'s Mot.”) 5:2-3, ECF No. 27. The
Government seeks an in limine order that would preclude
Defendant from proffering both self-defense evidence and
justification defense evidence. Pl.'s Mot. in Lim.
(“Pl.'s Mot.”) 1:19-22, ECF No. 28.
bears the burden of proving a prima facie case of
self-defense on two elements: “(1) [that he had] a
reasonable belief that the use of force was necessary to
defend himself ... against the immediate use of unlawful
force and (2) [that he] use[d] ... no more force than was
reasonably necessary in the circumstances.” United
States v. Biggs, 441 F.3d 1069, 1071 (9th Cir.
2006)(citing United States v. Keiser, 57 F.3d 847,
851 (9th Cir. 1995); see generally, United States v.
Cramer, 532 Fed.Appx. 789, 791 (9th Cir. 2013)
(unpublished) (defendant seeking to pursue any affirmative
defense must proffer “legally sufficient evidence of
each element” of the defense). Defendant's
justification defense includes the elements of the
self-defense prima facie standard and the following two
additional elements: the defendant had no reasonable
opportunity to escape the harm and he had not recklessly
placed himself in a dangerous situation. Biggs, 441
F.3d at 1071 (citing United States v. Nolan, 700
F.2d 479, 484 (9th Cir. 1983)).
argues in his motion the evidence on which he relies for his
assertion that he assaulted the victim in self-defense:
[He] will testify that the alleged victim made a threatening
gesture toward [him]; surprised and met Defendant on the
first floor of the central area of the cell pod in the
prison; the victim told Defendant that victim and Defendant
should go to the laundry room to fight; and Defendant
recognized that this would be a trap where other inmates
sympathetic to the victim would be waiting to join the
alleged victim in the fight. Rather than let a group of
inmates punch, kick and injure him, and while walking in the
direction of the laundry room, Defendant struck the alleged
victim in the face knocking the alleged victim to the ground.
While on the alleged victim was on the ground, Defendant
struck the alleged victim at least twice.
Def.'s Mot., 3:16-24. Defendant argues further:
[T]he FBI reports of the alleged victim's statement,
Defendant's statement and the video recording of the
fight ... are sufficient to demonstrate that Defendant struck
the alleged victim with a bare fist just prior to entering
the laundry room where the alleged victim's confederates
waited. Defendant used no more force than was necessary to
disable the alleged victim. Essentially, Defendant has made
by FBI report and video a prima facie case of self-defense
and is entitled to present such evidence to the jury.
Def.'s Opp'n (“Def.'s Opp'n”)
2:18-19, 3:1-5, ECF No. 29. However, FBI reports have not
been made part of the in limine motion record.
Government counters, arguing:
Taken as true, McNeal's sworn declaration tells the Court
that (1) he believed he would be attacked at an unknown point
in the future, and (2) he believed he would be attacked if he
entered the laundry room when invited by [alleged victim
Timothy] Jackson on May 25. These representations do not show
the required ‘immediate threat of unlawful force, '
[citing] Urena, 659 F.3d at 907, but rather a
concern either that McNeal would be attacked in the future,
and then only if he chose to enter the laundry room when
invited by Jackson. In either instance, McNeal's sworn