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Walker v. County of Cook

January 9, 2009

FREDRICK LEE WALKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF COOK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-Yeghiayan United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Plaintiff Fredrick Lee Walker's ("Walker") Motions in Limine. This matter is also before the court on Defendant Vincent E. Garrett's ("Garrett") Motions in Limine and Defendants' Motions in Limine. For the reasons stated below, we deny Walker's Motions in Limine, we grant Garrett's Motions in Limine, and we grant Defendants' Motions in Limine.

DISCUSSION

This matter is set for trial on January 12, 2009. The parties have filed pretrial motions.

I. Defendant Garrett's Motions in Limine

Garrett has filed Motions in Limine on behalf of himself and has included in his Motions in Limine a request to adopt the motions in limine filed by his co-Defendants. (G Mot. in Lim. 8). Walker has not contested Garrett's request to join in the Motions in Limine filed by Garrett's co-Defendants. Therefore, we grant Garrett's motion to join in the Motions in Limine filed by Garrett's co-Defendants.

A. Evidence of Disciplinary Records (G Mot. in Lim. 1)

Garrett moves in his Motion in Limine number 1 to bar Walker from offering any testimony, evidence, or argument regarding the prior disciplinary records of any of the Defendant officers or Sheriff's Office Personnel ("Sheriff Personnel") called as witnesses. Walker opposes the motion arguing that Garrett has not provided sufficient detail in his motion and further arguing that certain prior disciplinary records have a probative value that outweighs their prejudicial effect. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) ("Rule 404(b)"), a plaintiff may not offer evidence of prior bad acts character evidence in order to show conformity with those prior bad acts. Fed. R. Evid. 404(b). Furthermore, all evidence is inadmissible where the prejudicial effect of the evidence "substantially" outweighs its probative value. Fed. R. Evid. 403. In this case, records relating to the prior actions of the Defendant officers or Sheriff Personnel is prior bad acts evidence that is inadmissible under Rule 404(b). In opposing Garrett's motion, Walker has not adequately shown that such evidence would be admissible under Rule 404(b) and Garrett has shown that the prejudicial effect of such evidence would substantially outweigh its probative value. Therefore, we grant Garrett's Motion in Limine number 1.

B. Other Incidents of Excessive Force (G Mot. in Lim. 2)

Garrett moves in his Motion in Limine number 2 to bar all evidence regarding other publicized incidents of alleged excessive force that are unrelated to Walker's claims. Walker argues that such a request is overbroad and would bar potentially admissible media accounts of prior incidents. The probative value of publicized instances of excessive force is limited given that such incidents are unrelated to Walker's specific claims of excessive force. Furthermore, as Garrett correctly points out, the prejudicial effect of such evidence could be substantial given the public nature of such events and would unfairly prejudice a jury. Fed. R. Evid. 403. Therefore, we grant Garrett's Motion in Limine number 2.

C. Evidence of the Permanency of Walker's Injuries (G Mot. in Lim. 3)

Garrett moves in his Motion in Limine number 3 to bar any evidence or argument that Walker has suffered permanent injuries or will have future medical problems or the need for medical treatment in the future as a result of Defendants' actions. In support of his motion, Garrett points to the fact that Walker has not disclosed witnesses that are competent to testify about any lasting effects of Walker's alleged injuries. In opposition to the motion, Walker points out that, under Seventh Circuit precedent, Walker himself is entitled to testify about aspects of his injuries including the pain he is experiencing, the treatment he has received and other aspects not outside of a layperson's understanding. (W Ans. G Mot. in Limine 3, 1); Cooper v. Casey, 97 F.3d 914, 917 (7th Cir. 1996). While it is certainly true that Walker can testify about matters such as the pain he experienced as a result of his alleged injuries, Walker has not shown that he is qualified to testify about the permanency of his injuries or the likelihood that he will need certain medical care in the future. Walker has also not shown that he properly disclosed, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2), any expert qualified to testify as to the permanency of his injuries. Therefore, we grant Garrett's Motion in Limine number 3.

D. Evidence of Prior Bad Acts (G Mot. in Lim. 4)

Garrett moves in his Motion in Limine number 4 to bar all prior bad acts character evidence that is inadmissible under Rule 404(b) including evidence relating to a prior incident where Garrett was accused by another inmate of exercising excessive force. Walker argues that such evidence is admissible to prove Garrett's intent with respect to the actions by Garrett alleged in the instant action. It is Walker's allegations that are the subject-matter of this trial and not the unrelated prior allegations of excessive force by prior other inmates. Walker has not shown that any evidence of alleged prior bad acts of the Defendant officers and Sheriff Personnel would be used for any purpose other than to show propensity to commit the act alleged in this case. Such evidence is barred by Rule 404(b). Furthermore, the Seventh Circuit has stated that prior bad acts evidence can only be admissible if "(1) the evidence is directed toward establishing a matter in issue other than the defendant's propensity to commit the crime charged; (2) the evidence shows that the other act is similar enough and close enough in time to be relevant to the matter in issue; (3) the evidence is sufficient to support a jury finding that the defendant committed the similar act; and (4) the evidence has probative value that is not substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice." United States v. Mallett, 496 F.3d 798, 801 (7th Cir. 2007). In this case, Walker has not shown that the specific prior alleged incident raised in regards to Garrett was sufficiently related to the allegations in the instant case or that the evidence relating to that incident is probative to the extent that it is not substantially outweighed by its prejudicial effect. Furthermore, Garrett is correct in asserting that prior bad acts by the Defendant officers or Sheriff Personnel that are offered for the purposes of showing propensity to commit such offenses are inadmissible at trial. Therefore, we grant Garrett's Motion in Limine number 4.

E. Prior Conduct and Reputation Evidence (G Mot. in Lim. 5)

Garrett moves in his Motion in Limine number 5 to bar all testimony, evidence, or argument regarding prior alleged conduct or reputation of Garrett. Garrett also moves to bar witnesses put on by Walker from testifying about matters before the dates of the incidents in question where such alleged conduct does not bear any relationship to the conduct on the dates and times of the incidents. As discussed above, Rule 404(b) bars such evidence where offered to show conformity with such prior bad acts or reputation. Fed. R. Evid. ...


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