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Bales v. United States

December 10, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy McDADE United States District Judge


Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion in Limine to Bar Evidence and Argument Concerning Kenneth Hilgemann's Traffic Citation (Doc. 16) and Plaintiff's Designations of Testimony from Deposition of Kenneth Hilgemann (Doc. 17). This matter is set for a bench trial on Monday, December 14, 2009, at 9:00 A.M. before Judge Joe Billy McDade in Peoria. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's Motion in Limine is denied, and the entirety of Mr. Hilgemann's deposition will be viewed at trial.


Plaintiff requests that the Court bar all evidence and argument at trial concerning Mr. Hilgemann's traffic citation and subsequent acquittal by a jury of the traffic offense of failure to reduce speed in the accident at issue in this case. (Doc. 16). Plaintiff asserts that the disposition of Mr. Hilgemann's citation is irrelevant to this matter, and thus should be excluded under Federal Rules of Evidence 401-403.*fn1 In support of this argument, Plaintiff cites Davidson v. Meier, which holds that, under Illinois law, evidence showing that a defendant had been issued a traffic citation that was later dismissed is inadmissible.*fn2 376 N.E.2d 799, 803 (Ill. App. 1978).

In response, Defendant argues that its Exhibit 9, which is the certified copy of the citation and docket sheet from the traffic proceeding, is a public record under seal and is thus self-authenticating under Rule 902.*fn3 Defendant argues that Exhibit 9 is relevant only if Plaintiff presents evidence of Mr. Hilgemann's traffic citation,*fn4 in which case it should be admitted to prevent a "false impression that would be unfairly prejudicial."

The Court agrees that, if Plaintiff presents evidence or argument concerning Mr. Hilgemann's traffic citation, the admission of Exhibit 9 is necessary to dispel the false impression that may arise from the introduction of evidence the Mr. Hilgemann was issued a traffic citation. Exhibit 9, as described by Defendant, is a public record and is thus admissible. FED. R. EV. 803(8) & 902(1), (4). Therefore, if Plaintiff puts on evidence or argument that Mr. Hilgemann was issued a traffic citation, Defendant may introduce Exhibit 9 in order to rebut the implication that Mr. Hilgemann was found guilty of the traffic offense.

In addition, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant plans to offer evidence of testimony from the traffic proceeding, and that such evidence would be inadmissible hearsay in this matter under Rules 801 and 802. Defendant's exhibit list contains no exhibit that would include testimony from the traffic proceeding. Therefore, this issue is moot.


Plaintiff has submitted designations of portions of Mr. Hilgemann's deposition to be introduced into evidence at trial, in lieu of his in-person testimony.*fn5

(Doc. 17). Defendant notes that these designations exclude portions of the deposition, including defense counsel's cross-examination of Mr. Hilgemann. (Doc. 20). Defendant asks that the Court view the entire video of Mr. Hilgemann's deposition at trial, rather than just selected portions. Defendant states that, because of Mr. Hilgemann's communicative limitations, it will be easier for the Court to view the video deposition rather than rely on a transcript. It will be more efficient, Defendant asserts, for the Court to view the deposition as a whole, rather than to try to stop and start it according to Plaintiff's designations. Further, Defendant argues, the entire deposition will present a more complete version of the evidence than would be provided by only Plaintiff's designated portions.

The Court agrees that the videographed form of the deposition is the most efficient way to hear Mr. Hilgemann's testimony, and that both efficiency and the doctrine of completeness require that it view all admissible portions of Mr. Hilgemann's deposition. The deposition appears to have been just over two hours long. During the video, both Plaintiff and Defendant may object to any portions of the deposition that they believe are inadmissible, and the Court will be able to rule on the objections at that time.*fn6 As this is a bench trial, the Court need not be concerned about protecting the jury from hearing inadmissible questions or testimony. Therefore, the videographed deposition of Mr. Hilgemann will be viewed in its entirety by the Court at trial.


1. Plaintiff's Motion in Limine (Doc. 16) is DENIED. If evidence or argument from Plaintiff that Mr. Hilgemann was issued a traffic citation is admitted, Defendant may introduce the evidence listed in Defendant's Exhibit List as Exhibit 9. 2. The videographed deposition of Mr. Hilgemann WILL be viewed in its entirety by the ...

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