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Gonzalez v. City of Elgin

July 23, 2010

GONZALEZ ET AL
v.
CITY OF ELGIN ET AL.



Name of Assigned Judge Amy J. St. Eve Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge

CASE TITLE

DOCKET ENTRY TEXT

Plaintiffs' motion in limine number 16 [216] is granted in part without prejudice and denied in part.

O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.

STATEMENT

In their Motion in Limine Number 16, Plaintiffs seek to exclude from trial a potential witness's prior arrests and convictions. For the following reasons, the Court grants in part without prejudice and denies in part Plaintiffs' motion.

BACKGROUND

On October 2, 2005, Defendant Pantoja arrested Roy Scruggs for driving with a suspended license and put him in a squad car. While in the car, Mr. Scruggs witnessed some of the events at issue in this case before Defendant Kelly ordered him released without being charged. Mr. Scruggs has a history of arrests and convictions. The Elgin Police Department has arrested Mr. Scruggs thirty-six times, and two of those arrests resulted in felony convictions. (R. 216, Mot. in Limine No. 16 at 5; R. 236, Resp. Br. at 4.) He was convicted of a misdemeanor for resisting a peace officer on November 13, 2009, felony residential burglary on an unspecified date, and felony attempted aggravated battery on March 20, 2009.

ANALYSIS

While conceding that evidence of Mr. Scruggs' arrest on the night of the incident is admissible "to give context for why he was in the backseat of a police car during the incident," Plaintiffs seek the exclusion of Mr. Scruggs' other arrests and convictions pursuant to Federal Rules of Evidence 403, 404(b), and 609. (R. 216, Mot. in Limine No. 16 at 2.) Defendants respond that Mr. Scruggs' history of arrests and convictions is relevant to show his credibility and bias. (R. 236, Resp. Br. at 4.)

I. Mr. Scruggs' Convictions

Defendants do not argue for the use of Mr. Scruggs' misdemeanor conviction. With respect to the two felony convictions, however, Plaintiffs argue that they should be excluded because "Defendants never disclosed their intent to admit [them] under Federal Rule of Evidence 609," and their prejudicial value substantially outweighs their probative value. (R. 216, Mot. in Limine No. 16 at 2.)

On August 22, 2007, Defendants answered Plaintiffs' First Set of Interrogatories as follows: Please identify any and all criminal convictions of any Person relating to this law suit that Defendants will seek to use at trial for purposes of impeaching any witness, or for [any] other purpose. For each such responsive conviction, identify: (a) the witness who has been convicted and the nature of the conviction and (b) the complete factual basis as to why the conviction qualifies as admissible under FRE 609. Please be advised that your duty to supplement you[r] answer to this Interrogatory remains ongoing as discovery progresses, and that plaintiffs intend to move in limine to bar any references to convictions not identified in the manner requested. ANSWER: None at this time. Investigation continues.

(R. 216-1, Answer No. 4 to Pl.'s 1st Set of Interrogs.) Plaintiffs contend that "Defendants did not disclose any of Mr. Scruggs' convictions" (R. 216, Mot. in Limine No. 16 at 4), before stating that "Defendants did produce documents concerning Mr. Scruggs' prior arrests and convictions in December 2009." (Id. at 4 n.1) Defendants add that they produced "copies of the charging and sentencing documents related to [the felony convictions]" at Mr. Scruggs' December 28, 2009 deposition, at which Mr. Scruggs ...


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