United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT JENNIFER YANG'S MOTIONS
IN LIMINE RE: DKT. NOS. 167, 168, 171
H. Koh, United States District Judge.
October 12, 2017, a federal grand jury returned a Superseding
Indictment charging Defendants Jennifer Yang and Daniel Wu
with one count of conspiracy (“Count 1”), three
counts of visa fraud (“Counts 2 through 4”), two
counts of mail fraud (“Counts 5 and 6”), and two
counts of aggravated identity theft (“Counts 7 and
8”). ECF No. 4 (“Superseding Indictment”).
The Superseding Indictment also charges Defendant Jennifer
Yang with two counts of money laundering (“Counts 9 and
10”). Id. Trial in this case is scheduled to
begin on November 12, 2019. A pre-trial conference will take
place on October 30, 2019.
October 15, 2019, in advance of the pre-trial conference,
Defendant Yang filed four motions in limine: (1) Motion in
Limine No. 1 to Exclude Certain Documents Located in the
Bates Ranges Provided for Government Exhibits One Through
Nine, ECF No. 167, which Defendant Wu joins, ECF No. 177; (2)
Motion in Limine No. 2 Re: Christine Sarapu, ECF No. 168,
which Defendant Wu joins, ECF No. 177; (3) Motion in Limine
No. 3 to Exclude Government 404(b) Evidence, ECF No. 170; and
(4) Motion in Limine No. 4 to Exclude Evidence Regarding Ms.
Yang's Personal Expenses and Bank Accounts, ECF No. 171.
The Government filed oppositions on October 22, 2019. ECF
Nos. 190, 191, 193. The Court resolved Defendant Yang's
Motion in Limine No. 3 in its October 25, 2019 order. ECF No.
200. Defendant Yang's three remaining motions in limine
are now before the Court. Having considered the parties'
submissions, the relevant law, and the record in this case,
the Court DENIES all three remaining motions in limine.
in limine are a “procedural mechanism to limit in
advance testimony or evidence in a particular area.”
United States v. Heller, 551 F.3d 1108, 1111 (9th
Cir. 2009). Like other pretrial motions, motions in limine
are “useful tools to resolve issues which would
otherwise clutter up the trial.” City of Pomona v.
SQM N. Am. Corp., 866 F.3d 1060, 1070 (9th Cir. 2017).
Accordingly, “a ruling on a motion in limine is
essentially a preliminary opinion that falls entirely within
the discretion of the district court.” Id.;
see Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n. 4
(1984) (explaining that a court may rule in limine
“pursuant to the district court's inherent
authority to manage the course of trials”).
instances, however, rulings “should be deferred until
trial, so that questions of foundation, relevancy, and
potential prejudice may be resolved in proper context.”
United States v. Pac. Gas & Elec. Co., 178
F.Supp.3d 927, 941 (N.D. Cal. 2016). For example, in order to
exclude evidence on a motion in limine, “the evidence
must be inadmissible on all potential grounds.”
McConnell v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 995 F.Supp.2d
1164, 1167 (D. Nev. 2014). Thus, denial of a motion in limine
to exclude certain evidence does not mean that all evidence
contemplated by the motion will be admitted, only that the
court is unable to make a comprehensive ruling in advance of
trial. Id. Moreover, even if a district court does
rule in limine, the court may “change its ruling at
trial because testimony may bring facts to the district
court's attention that it did not anticipate at the time
of its initial ruling.” City of Pomona, 866
F.3d at 1070; see also Ohler v. United States, 529
U.S. 753, 758 n.3 (2000) (“[I]n limine rulings are not
binding on the trial judge, and the judge may always change
his mind during the course of a trial.”).
DEFENDANT YANG'S MOTIONS IN LIMINE
Motion in Limine No. 1 to Exclude Certain Documents Located
in the Bates Ranges Provided for Government Exhibits One
Motion in Limine No. 1, Defendant Yang asks the Court to
exclude various immigration filings identified in the
Government's Exhibit List that she believes are not
relevant to the charged conduct. ECF No. 167 (“Yang
Mot. No. 1”) at 2. As part of the charged scheme to
defraud, Defendant Yang is accused of having
“submit[ted] and cause[d] to be submitted I-526 and
I-829 petitions . . . containing false representations and
material omissions.” Superseding Indictment at ¶
23. As relevant here, the Superseding Indictment identifies
three specific I-526 or I-829 forms that form the basis of
the charges: WZ's I-526 petition, identified as
Government Exhibit 1; YZ's I-829 petition, identified as
Government Exhibit 7; and SY's I-829 petition, identified
as Government Exhibit 8. Id. ¶¶ 36, 38,
40; ECF No. 156; see also Yang Mot. No. 1 at 2.
Defendant Yang objects that these exhibits, though they
purport to contain only the aforementioned petitions,
actually “include multiple unrelated immigration
petitions or filings (the ‘Unrelated Filings') that
are distinct from the I-526 and I-829 petitions at
issue.” Yang Mot. No. 1 at 2. Defendant Yang therefore
moves to exclude those “unrelated filings” as
irrelevant under Federal Rule of Evidence 401 or likely to
confuse the jury and cause undue prejudice under Federal Rule
of Evidence 403. Id. at 3.
Government responds that its exhibits do not contain any
“unrelated filings.” Rather, the exhibits at
issue simply reflect the way that U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (“USCIS”) organizes and
evaluates EB-5 visa applications. ECF No. 191 at 3. According
to the Government, USCIS considers submissions other than the
applicant's I-526 or I-829 forms, and its records of each
application include the supporting submissions. Id.
As a result, the Government's exhibits contain documents
other than the applicant's I-526 or I-829 form because
“those documents . . . constituted part of the overall
applications that USCIS reviewed in adjudicating those
petitions.” Id. The Government has not itself
“shuffle[d] or rearrange[d]” the files it
received from USCIS. Id. It is undisputed that
WZ's visa application, YZ's visa application, and
SY's visa application are relevant to the instant case,
as they provide the factual predicate for various charges in
the Superseding Indictment. As the Government represents that
its exhibits contain only those filings that comprised each
individual visa application, the objected-to documents are
relevant as well.
the Government contends that forms that require the
preparer-when that is someone other than the petitioner-to
identify himself or herself are evidence of Defendants'
control over the foreign investors' visa application
processes. Id. at 4. Similarly, the Government
asserts that forms that record contact information used by
USCIS to provide status updates on pending petitions are
evidence of Defendants' control over information from
USCIS to the foreign investors. Id. The Government
also argues that USCIS's requests for evidence and
responses to such requests are evidence of the deficiencies
in the petitions, as well as Defendants' alleged attempts
to bolster false representations in the original submissions.
Id. These proposed uses of immigration forms other
than the applicant's I-526 or I-829 form are entirely
Defendant Yang's motion is DENIED. Defendants may object
on Rule 403 grounds when the Government seeks to introduce
specific documents at trial.
Motion in Limine No. 2 Re: Christine Sarapu
Motion in Limine No. 2, Defendants ask the Court to exclude
portions of Government expert Christine Sarapu's report
and to preclude Ms. Sarapu from testifying to the same. ECF
No. 168 (“Yang Mot. No. 2”). Specifically,
Defendants contend that Ms. Sarapu proposes to offer
testimony “defining the applicable law and drawing
legal conclusions as to what constitutes compliance with, or
violations of, the law, in the following numbered
paragraphs[:] 19, 23-29, 31-42, 45-50, 52-82, 84-86, and
100.” Id ...