United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
May 2, 2005.
VIRGEAN HOUSKINS, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL F. SHEAHAN, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MILTON SHADUR, Senior District Judge
Trial of this action was regrettably aborted on April 11, 2005
when defense counsel raised several issues that should have been
tendered earlier but were not. With the trial now having been
rescheduled to commence on May 31, codefendants Donald Keith
("Keith"), Cook County and Sheriff Michael Sheahan (for
convenience, the latter two defendants will be referred to
collectively as "Sheahan," treated as a singular noun) have
submitted written materials relating to such motions, and counsel
for plaintiff Virgean Houskins ("Houskins") has responded. This
memorandum order addresses those issues.
First, Keith again urges that the trial of Houskins' claims
against him be severed, converting a single trial into two trials
even though all claims against the three defendants derive from
the identical set of facts. That motion is empty of merit, and it
To begin with, the Final Pretrial Order ("FPTO"), submitted by all parties including Keith*fn1 and entered by this
Court on October 4, 2004, listed no objections on Keith's behalf
as to any of the exhibits, including those that Keith's counsel
now says could prejudice him as and when admitted into evidence
in connection with Houskins' claims against Sheahan. This
District Court's Standing Order Establishing Pretrial Procedure
prescribes the FPTO form that the parties employed, a form that
contains this express provision as to exhibits:
As the attached Schedule (c) form indicates,
non-objected-to exhibits are received in evidence by
operation of this Order, without any need for further
And the exhibits now complained of by Keith's counsel were listed
in the FPTO as joint exhibits and were set forth with this
The parties have agreed to the admissibility of the
following documents:*fn2 In sum, Keith and his counsel have forfeited (if not indeed
waived) any objections that they now seek to raise.
Moreover, from a substantive point of view, any exhibits that
may be relevant to Houskins' claims against Sheahan but not to
her claims against Keith can and will be made the subject of
limiting instructions to the jury. Such limiting instructions are
regularly provided to juries, and juries in this District Court
regularly display the ability to honor and heed such
instructions. In short, Keith's renewed motion for severance is
As for Sheahan's currently advanced motion in limine, it
challenges what the FPTO listed as Houskins' Ex. Pl, described as
"Affidavit of Christopher Langone (exhibit summary)." In contrast
to the Keith-raised issue just discussed, Sheahan did preserve
this objection to that exhibit in the FPTO:
Objection, relevance may waive subject to Defendant
Cook County Sheriff's Department review.
In that respect it appears that the parties are like ships that
pass in the night. Because Sheahan's counsel objected to the
affidavit by Langone (Houskins' counsel) that Langone had
characterized as a Fed.R. Evid. 1006 summary of an underlying
database regarding disciplinary hearings within Sheahan's department, Houskins' counsel has agreed to withdraw the
affidavit and to use only the discipline database itself.
Nonetheless Sheahan's motion in limine submitted last week
continues to object to the introduction of the Langone affidavit
(which, as just stated, is no longer in issue).
Accordingly Sheahan's motion in limine, as framed, is denied as
moot.*fn3 And lest Sheahan's counsel retreat to an objection
regarding the use of the database itself, Houskins' counsel has
provided an explanation that the database was Sheahan's own work
product. In short, if and to the extent that Sheahan's motion in
limine were to be modified to address Houskins' proposed use of
the database itself, it too would call for denial.