objects to the use of these documents at trial contending that they were improperly obtained by defendants' counsel after the close of discovery and that he was prejudiced thereby.
Charles' arguments to exclude this highly probative evidence are not compelling. First, Charles emphasizes that the documents were obtained after the close of discovery. However, it does not follow from the fact that the court has set a date for the close of discovery, that all investigation into a party's claims or defenses must come to a halt on that date. The parties remain free to track relevant evidence -- including, as in the instant case, obtaining information from cooperative third parties. Therefore, the fact that the Evanston Police Department records were obtained after the close of discovery is not a sufficient ground for excluding this probative evidence, particularly where, as here, the material was provided to Charles as soon as it was obtained and well in advance of the filing of a final pretrial order.
Charles also emphasizes the fact that the documents were obtained by informal means not available to him. Charles speculates in his motion and reply that defendants obtained the documents informally by sending a fellow Chicago Police Officer to the Evanston Police Department who was able to obtain the documents, without following normal Evanston Police Department procedures, simply by virtue of being a fellow law enforcement officer. Charles, on the other hand, was told by the Evanston Police Department that if he wanted access to the documents he would have to subpoena them and pay a twenty-dollar fee. Thus, simply put, Charles argues that defendants enjoyed an advantage over him with respect to obtaining the documents. Significantly, Charles does not argue that he could not obtain the documents, only that he would have faced greater impediments than defendants. However, this is not a problem unique to this lawsuit. In virtually all litigation there are third-parties possessing probative evidence who are willing to volunteer the evidence to one party and not the other; the latter must resort to formal means of discovery including subpoena. Thus, Charles' protestation that defendants were able to obtain the challenged documents through channels unavailable to him, also does not justify excluding this probative evidence.
Nor can the court conclude that Charles has suffered any prejudice because of defense counsels' conduct. Charles notes that the September 11, 1991, incident was the subject of a complaint he filed and that an internal investigation regarding the incident was conducted. Charles further notes that defendants effectively thwarted his efforts to discover the documents contained in the OPS file regarding this incident claiming that such documents were irrelevant to his section 1983 claims; and, in view of this fact, Charles argues that he is prejudiced by defendants' belated recognition of the relevance of the September 11, 1991 incident. Were it not for this court's August 10, 1994 ruling, we might agree. However, on August 10, 1994, the court granted Charles' motion for reconsideration of prior rulings denying his discovery of defendants' personnel records and disciplinary files. In view of the fact that Charles has no longer been foreclosed from reviewing the OPS files, the court cannot conclude that he has suffered any prejudice in this regard.
Charles also suggests that he was prejudiced by the fact that defendants did not employ formal means of discovery because he was given no opportunity to contest the receipt of the documents. However, in view of the potentially high probative nature of the documents, the court cannot conclude that it would have denied formal discovery of the materials after the close of discovery -- and it is noteworthy that Charles has identified no basis other than timeliness to exclude the documents -- therefore, Charles' speculative claim of prejudice is insufficient to justify exclusion of the documents.
The court has considered all of Charles' other contentions not specifically mentioned herein and finds them to be without merit. For the foregoing reasons Charles' motion to bar use of certain documents at trial, and for sanctions is denied.
MOTIONS IN LIMINE
Federal district courts have the power to exclude evidence in limine pursuant to their authority to manage trials. Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4, 83 L. Ed. 2d 443, 105 S. Ct. 460 (1984). Guidelines governing motions in limine were recently set forth in Hawthorne Partners v. AT & T Technologies, Inc., 831 F. Supp. 1398 (N.D. Ill. 1993), as follows:
This court has the power to exclude evidence in limine only when evidence is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds. Unless evidence meets this high standard, evidentiary rulings should be deferred until trial so that questions of foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice may be resolved in proper context. Denial of a motion in limine does not necessarily mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion will be admitted at trial. Denial merely means that without the context of trial, the court is unable to determine whether the evidence in question should be excluded. The court will entertain objections on individual proffers as they arise at trial, even though the proffer falls within the scope of a denied motion in limine.
Id. at 1400-01. With these guidelines in mind, we turn to the motions before the court.
Plaintiff's motion to exclude evidence of his criminal convictions
Pursuant to FED. R. EVID. 609 and 403, Charles moves to exclude all evidence relating to his criminal convictions, arguing that such evidence has no probative value to the issues at bar and that any probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. As set forth below, Charles' motion is granted in part and denied in part.
Rule 609 permits admission, subject to Rule 403, of evidence of past felony convictions for purposes of impeaching a civil witness. Under Rule 403, such evidence may be excluded where the probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. The Seventh Circuit set forth the proper limits of the use of evidence of past felony convictions in Campbell v. Greer, 831 F.2d 700 (7th Cir. 1987), wherein the court stated that although a felony conviction may be used to impeach a witness in a civil action:
this is not to say that the opposing party may harp on the witness's crime, parade it lovingly before the jury in all its gruesome details, and thereby shift the focus of attention from the events at issue in the present case to the witness's conviction in a previous case. He may not. Essentially all the information the cross-examiner is permitted to elicit is the crime charged, the date, and the disposition.