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Garcia v. City of Santa Clara

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 13, 2017

DANIEL C. GARCIA, Plaintiff,
CITY OF SANTA CLARA, et al., Defendants.


          SUSAN ILLSTON United States District Judge

         On June 13, 2017, the Court held a final pretrial conference in the above captioned matter, which is set for jury trial beginning June 19, 2017. All parties were represented by counsel. The following matters were resolved:

         1. Number of jurors and challenges: There will be a jury of 8 members. Each side shall have 4 peremptory challenges.

         2. Voir dire: The Court will conduct general voir dire, including various of the questions requested by counsel in their proposed additional voir dire filings. Counsel for each side shall have up to 20 minutes total to question the panel.

         3. Jury instructions: The Court received proposed jury instructions from the parties; substantial disagreements remain between the parties. The parties are directed to meet and confer to resolve as many disputes as possible. The parties are further directed to provide to the Court no later than Tuesday, June 20, 2017 a succinct statement of the fundamental disagreements in the substantive instructions, together with the (few) competing instructions reflecting those disagreements. The Court will review same and inform counsel prior to closing argument which substantive instructions will be given.

         4. Trial exhibits: No later than Monday, June 19, 2017, the parties shall submit their trial exhibits, in binders with numbered tabs separating and identifying each exhibit. The Court shall be provided with three sets (the originals for the file, one set for the Court and one set for the witnesses).

         5. Timing of trial: Plaintiff estimates that his case should take 2 trial days, and defendant estimates that his case should take 1 trial day. Further, defendant requests that punitive damages should be bifurcated from liability and general damages. Based on these estimates, and a review of the other materials in the Joint Pretrial Conference Statement, the Court will set the matter for a 3 day trial, as follows: During the first phase, each side shall have up to 30 minutes to present opening statements; each side shall have 7.5 hours total for presentation of evidence, which includes direct and cross-examination and presentation of all exhibits; and each side shall have up to 45 minutes for closing argument. Should a punitive damages phase be required, each side shall have 1 hour to present additional evidence and argument, before final submission to the jury.

         6. Trial schedule: Jury selection will begin on June 19, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. The trial day runs from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., with a 15 minute break at 10:00 a.m., a 30 minute break at noon and a 15 minute break at 2:00 p.m., all times approximate. The Court does not hear trials on Fridays, although juries may continue to deliberate on Fridays.

         7.Motions in limine: The parties filed approximately 14 motions in limine, as follows:


         Plaintiff's Motion No. 1: To exclude evidence and testimony of plaintiff's criminal convictions. GRANTED with respect to plaintiff's plea and conviction related to his May 24, 2008 arrest for Cal. Penal Code § 148(a) (resisting arrest). Defendants concede this evidence should be excluded. See Dkt. No. 247 at 1:26-28. GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART with respect to plaintiff's past felony convictions. Federal Rule of Evidence 609 concerns evidence of criminal convictions for the purposes of impeachment. “In [g]eneral[, ]” a party may attack “a witness's character for truthfulness by evidence of a criminal conviction” “for a crime that, in the convicting jurisdiction, was punishable by . . . imprisonment for more than one year.” Fed.R.Evid. 609(a). The impeachment evidence “must be admitted, subject to Rule 403, in a civil case . . . in which the witness is not a defendant[.]” Id. 609(a)(1)(A). Furthermore, “for any crime regardless of the punishment, the evidence must be admitted if the court can readily determine that establishing the elements of the crime required proving-or the witness's admitting-a dishonest act or false statement.” Id. 609(a)(2). Rule 609(b), which does not apply here, imposes certain limitations on evidence of convictions more than ten years old.

         Evidence of plaintiff's prior convictions, in general, is not relevant to the issues in this trial. However, under Rule 609, plaintiff's felony convictions are admissible, with limitations, for purposes of impeachment. No evidence will be allowed concerning the specific nature of plaintiff's felonies, the duration of his sentence(s), or the fact that he remains incarcerated for these crimes. The jury may know that plaintiff has past felony convictions, but the nature of plaintiff's felonies and length of sentence(s) is excluded under Rule 403. At the pretrial conference, defense counsel indicated that plaintiff was convicted of eight felony counts at his recent trial. Upon reflection, the Court is persuaded by plaintiff's counsel's argument that it would be unfairly prejudicial to inform the jury of this number. Instead, the jury may be informed that plaintiff has suffered “several” or “multiple” felony convictions.

         Plaintiff's Motion No. 2: To appear unrestrained and in “street clothes.” Defendants defer to the Court as this is primarily a security issue. Defendants only request that if the Court grants plaintiff's request not to have video of his deposition shown (as his deposition was taken in prison), that the Court hold the same with respect to the officers' depositions. GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Plaintiff is permitted to appear at trial in “street clothes, ” without shackles or restraints on his upper-body. However, plaintiff is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for a role he played in the death of another person. He is to remain shackled at the legs, beneath counsel table, during trial. Plaintiff shall enter/exit the courtroom and take/leave the witness stand outside the presence of the jury. The Court will revisit this ruling if security personnel suggest a different arrangement.

         The Court further GRANTS plaintiff's request not to have video of his deposition shown during trial. Defendants may play the audio or read from a transcript as and if necessary. For purposes of symmetry, the Court also GRANTS defendants' similar request as to the video deposition of defendant Lange, but will allow plaintiff ...

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