The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge
Order on Defendants' Motions in Limine (Doc. 122); Plaintiffs' Motion in Limine (Doc. 123); Plaintiffs' Supplemental Motion in Limine (Doc. 139); and Defendants' Additional Motion in Limine (Doc. 140)
Analysis of the parties' motions in limine begins with these general principles. The purpose of a motion in limine is to allow the trial court to rule on the relevance and admissibility of evidence before it is offered at trial. See Fed. R. Evid. 104(a) ("Preliminary questions concerning the qualification of a person to be a witness... or the admissibility of evidence shall be determined by the court."); Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4 (1984) ("Although the Federal Rules of Evidence do not explicitly authorize in limine rulings, the practice has developed pursuant to the district court's inherent authority to manage the course of trials.").
Although found neither in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure nor in the Federal Rules of Evidence, Deghand v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 980 F. Supp. 1176, 1179 (D. Kan. 1997), motions in limine aid the trial process "by enabling the Court to rule in advance of trial on the relevance of certain forecasted evidence, as to issues that are definitely set for trial, without lengthy argument at, or interruption of, the trial." Palmieri v. Defaria, 88 F.3d 136, 141 (2d Cir. 1996). Motions in limine also may save the parties time, effort and cost in preparing and presenting their cases. Pivot Point Int'l, Inc. v. Charlene Prods., Inc., 932 F. Supp. 220, 222 (N.D. Ill. 1996). Often, however, the better practice is to wait until trial to rule on objections, particularly when admissibility substantially depends upon facts which may be developed there. See Sperberg v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 519 F.2d 708, 712 (6th Cir. 1975).
The movant has the burden of demonstrating that the evidence is inadmissible on any relevant ground, "for any purpose." Plair v. E.J. Brach & Sons, Inc., 864 F. Supp. 67, 69 (N.D. Ill. 1994). The court may deny a motion in limine when it "lacks the necessary specificity with respect to the evidence to be excluded." Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh v. L.E. Myers Co. Group,937 F. Supp. 276, 287 (S.D.N.Y. 1996). Moreover, the court may alter a limine ruling based on developments at trial or sound judicial discretion. Luce, 469 U.S. at 41.
"Denial of a motion in limine does not necessarily mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion will be admitted at trial." Hawthorne Partners v. AT & T Techs., Inc., 831 F. Supp. 1398, 1401 (N.D. Ill. 1993). Denial only means that the court cannot decide admissibility outside the context of trial. Plair, 864 F. Supp. at 69.
Clearly, a court may reserve judgment until trial, so that the motion in limine is placed "in an appropriate factual context." Nat'l Union, 937 F. Supp. at 287. Stated another way, motion in limine rulings are "subject to change when the case unfolds" at trial. Luce, 469 U.S. at 41. Indeed, "even if nothing unexpected happens at trial, the district judge is free, in the exercise of sound judicial discretion, to alter a previous in limine ruling." Id.
With the above in mind, the Court turns to ruling on the motions.
II. Defendants Motions in Limine (Doc. 122)
A. Defendants seek to preclude plaintiffs from eliciting evidence regarding their justifications for opposing the residency requirement.
DENIED. The so called residency requirement is at the very core of this litigation and to preclude plaintiffs' (or defendants') justifications for their respective positions would create a testimonial void. This testimony helps "complete the story."
B. Defendants seek to impose a set-off for wages earned by plaintiffs during the time period of their terminations.
DENIED. This issue can be covered by the applicable jury instructions and is not appropriate as a motion in limine.
C. Defendants seek to preclude evidence of other police officers and non-police employees who "allegedly" lived outside the village and were "allegedly" treated differently from plaintiffs.
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. The motion is granted to the "non-police employees absent a foundation they are subject to substantially the same language as the police officers." The motion is denied as to other police officers so long as their "residency requirement" language is substantially similar to the language governing plaintiffs.
D. Defendants seek to exclude evidence of a May 9, 1997 attorney opinion as privileged under the attorney--client doctrine.
RULING RESERVED PENDING ORAL ARGUMENT AND IN CAMERA REVIEW OF THE LETTER. REQUEST TO FILE LETTER EX PARTE UNDER SEAL GRANTED.
E. Defendants seek to exclude evidence from plaintiffs personnel file that do not specifically address residency.
GRANTED. Magistrate Judge Frazier's September 16, 2009 order envisions that all information other than that which reveals the "address or residency of any public employee or official" was to be redacted. That defendants turned the information over without redaction, in order to expedite matters, is not a waiver of this requirement, especially when the files may contain sensitive information.
F. Defendants seek to exclude evidence of the Illinois Fifth District Court of Appeals Rule 23 Orders.
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. If the Illinois Courts have issued a final interpretation of the language at issue in the instant case then that interpretation governs and can be incorporated into the jury instructions. To that extent the motion is denied. But the use of Rule 23 orders before the jury may lead to confusion and the admission of irrelevant or cumulative evidence. To that extent the motion is granted.
G. Defendants seek to exclude evidence of certain minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Cahokia.
GRANTED. Unless plaintiffs can offer something more than guess, speculation or conjecture that the executive session of July 5, 2005 included evidence relevant to the case at bar, this allegedly "missing" evidence is precluded by Rules 401, 402 and 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.
H. Defendants seek to exclude evidence of minutes of the October 24, 2003 Executive Session of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Cahokia.
GRANTED. Unless plaintiffs can offer something more than guess, speculation or conjecture that the executive session of July 5, 2005 included evidence relevant to the case at bar, this allegedly "missing" evidence is precluded by Rules 401, 402 and 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. The temporal relationship suggested by plaintiff is speculative.
I. Defendants seek to exclude evidence of Debra Barker. GRANTED BY AGREEMENT.
J. Defendants seek to exclude evidence of "emotional damages."
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Plaintiffs may not, absent medical background and training, opine that defendants' actions were a proximate cause of plaintiffs physical or medical conditions or offer self-diagnosis. Included as barred by this ruling are insomnia, hypertension, diarrhea, shortness of breath, ulcers, depression, lack of sexual activity and headaches.*fn1 However, they may describe feelings of stress, anxiety and that they felt degraded, low and backstabbed.*fn2 The court believes this testimony can be tested on cross-examination and defendant's objection goes more to weight than admissibility.
III. Plaintiff 's Motion in Limine (Doc. 123)
1. Request to exclude evidence, testimony or reference to the motion in limine and the Court's rulings.
DENIED as unnecessary and without prejudice to restate at trial, if necessary. This subject matter is covered by the Federal Rules of Evidence, making a motion in limine unnecessary.
2. Request to exclude opinions, conclusions, or facts beyond the scope of those opinions, conclusions, or facts not previously disclosed in discovery "insofar as inquiry into these matters were propounded to the witness."
DENIED as unnecessary and without prejudice to restate at trial, if necessary. This subject matter is covered by the Federal Rules of Evidence, ...