The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES KOCORAS, District Judge
This matter comes before the court on the parties' motions in limine.
Plaintiff Edward Acevedo has filed nine motions; Defendant Dennis
Canterbury has filed eleven.
The power to exclude evidence pursuant to motions in limine is part and
parcel of a district court's authority to manage trials. Falk v. Kimberly
Servs., 1997 WL 201568, *1 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 16, 1997). Motions in limine
should be granted only when the evidence under attack is clearly
inadmissible on all potential grounds. Hawthorne Partners v. A.T. & T.
Technologies. Inc., 831 F. Supp. 1398, 1400 (N.D. Ill. 1993). The
admissibility of some proposed evidence cannot be determined without a
proper frame of reference, and motions in limine pertaining to such evidence
should be denied. See Tzoumis v. Tempel Steel Co., 168 F. Supp.2d 871,
873 (N.D. Ill. 2001). Of course, such a denial does not mandate that the
subject evidence be admitted at trial; rather, it allows the court to
address pertinent questions of admissibility within a proper context.
Hawthorne Partners. 831 F. Supp. at 1400-01. Moreover, a district court
can alter a previous ruling on a motion in limine. Luce v. U.S.,
49 U.S. 38, 41-42, 105 S.Ct. 460 (1984). With these principles in mind, we
address the motions before us.
Several of the respective motions have not been challenged and their
bases are meritorious: Acevedo's first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh,
and ninth motions and Canterbury's first, third, tenth, and eleventh
motions. Consequently, these motions are granted.
Acevedo's third motion would bar Canterbury from referring to or using
any photographs or exhibits not previously produced or identified. In
response, Acevedo calls the court's attention to photographs taken of the
location of an altercation described within the complaint. He admits that
the photographs were not produced before discovery closed in this case in
December 2003. However, Acevedo claims that these pictures were given to
Canterbury's counsel in February, two months before a date was set for trial. Canterbury does not dispute this fact.
Accordingly, it appears that Canterbury is not prejudiced by the delay in
receiving the materials, and their tardy arrival will cause no disruption
of the upcoming trial. Canterbury has made no claim that Acevedo
willfully withheld the photographs, and we can detect none. Accordingly,
we conclude that Acevedo's failure to turn the photographs over before
the discovery cut-off date was harmless, and their exclusion is not
warranted. See David v. Caterpillar, 324 F.3d 851, 857 (7th Cir. 2003).
The third motion is consequently denied.
Canterbury also attacks Acevedo's sixth motion, which seeks to bar
Canterbury from eliciting testimony from lay witnesses on the issue of
whether Acevedo was intoxicated at the time of the incidents alleged in
the complaint. Canterbury argues that lay persons are not qualified to
offer opinions on blood alcohol level. While this is true, evidence of
intoxication is not limited to these medical measurements. Other
indicators are well within the experience of the average adult. See,
e.g., People v. Vanzandt, 679 N.E.2d 130, 136 (Ill.App. Ct. 1997).
Although this evidence may raise questions of credibility, it does not
point to wholescale inadmissibility. Thus, Acevedo's sixth motion in
limine is denied.
The last of Acevedo's disputed motions attempts to bar Canterbury from
referring to the outcome of the investigation performed by Internal
Affairs of Acevedo. We agree with Acevedo that this evidence is likely to confuse the
jury, and its prejudicial effect outweighs its potential probative value.
Accordingly, Acevedo's eighth motion is granted. However, this ruling
will not apply to the use of the statements if they are used solely to
refresh a witness's recollection or for impeachment purposes.
The first of Canterbury's disputed motions pertains to information
about the wealth or poverty of the parties. Canterbury asks the court to
bar introduction of this evidence; Acevedo quarrels only within the
context of the complaint's prayer for an award of punitive damages.
Certainly, if Acevedo continues to pursue punitive damages, Canterbury's
financial situation will be very relevant. See Kemezy v. Peters,
79 F.3d 33, 35-36 (7th Cir. 1996). Thus, the motion is granted with
respect to the compensatory damage claims that Acevedo seeks but denied
with respect to any case he may put on for punitives.
The second disputed motion filed by Canterbury requests that Acevedo be
prohibited from referring to Canterbury's prior arrests or convictions or
any disciplinary actions taken against Canterbury or his witnesses.
Acevedo responds only that such evidence should be available to him for
rebuttal purposes if Canterbury attempts to paint himself or his
witnesses in a positive light through mention of awards and the like. The evidence may be allowable in that situation. With
respect to other evidence within the potential reach of this motion, we
are not convinced from the sparse presentation the parties have offered
that it would be inadmissible in all circumstances. This is particularly
so with respect to the witnesses other than Canterbury. If, for example,
a disciplinary action was taken against a witness because of behavior
that would be probative of the witness's truthfulness or untruthfulness,
questioning in that area would be permissible under Fed.R.Evid. 608(b)
but would be barred by this broad motion. Accordingly, the request to
categorically exclude this broad range of evidence is denied. Particular
matters are better left for trial evaluation.
The third disputed motion is tied to the second but specifically
involves so-called "Complaint Register Numbers." As neither party
explains what this evidence comprises, we have no basis to conclude that
it should be treated any differently from ...