Name of Assigned Judge Blanche M. Manning Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge
The plaintiffs' consolidated motions in limine [77-1] are granted in part and denied in part as detailed below. The defendants' consolidated motions in limine [78-1] are granted in part, denied in part, or the court defers ruling on the motion, as detailed below.
O [ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.
Plaintiffs Anna McCadd and her son Harold (for clarity, the court shall use only their first names) allege that Chicago police stormed their home looking for drugs not once but twice, coming up empty-handed on both occasions. Police arrested Harold after the second search, but prosecutors eventually dropped the charges due to lack of evidence. Harold and Anna, who is in her 90's, have sued the City of Chicago and four of its police officers for illegal search and false arrest in violation of the U.S. Constitution, see 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as a variety of state law claims including malicious prosecution.
Before the court are motions in limine the parties have filed in advance of trial. Judges have broad discretion when ruling on motions in limine. See Jenkins v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 316 F.3d 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2002). Evidence should be excluded on a motion in limine "only when evidence is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds [and unless] evidence meets this high standard, evidentiary rulings should be deferred until trial." Steck v. Bimba Mfg Co., 96 CV 7442, 1997 WL 685003, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 30, 1997) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The denial of a motion in limine does not mean that the evidence is necessarily admissible, rather, it means only that the party moving in limine has not demonstrated that there is no possible basis for the admission of the evidence. Holmes v. Sood, No. 02 CV 7266, 2006 WL 1988716, at *1 (N.D. Ill. July 12, 2006); see also Alexander v. Mt. Sinai Hosp. Med. Center of Chicago, No. 00 C 2907, 2005 WL 3710369 at *2 (N.D. Ill. Jan.14, 2005). Further, the denial of a motion in limine does not preclude a party from objecting to the admission of any evidence at trial. United States v. Connelly, 874 F.2d 412, 416 (7th Cir. 1989) ("a ruling [on motion in limine is] subject to change based upon the court's exposure to the evidence at trial").
Keeping in mind these observations, the court addresses the parties' motions in limine in turn.
Plaintiffs' Consolidated Motions in Limine [77-1]
Plaintiffs' Motion #1 to Bar Any Reference To Harold McCadd's Prior Arrests and Convictions
In this motion, the plaintiffs seek to bar the defendants from referring to Harold's prior arrests and/or his conviction in 1986 of an unidentified crime. Under Federal Rule of Evidence 609, evidence of a prior felony conviction or other conviction involving dishonesty may be used to attack a witness' credibility, but only if it is less than ten years old. Thus, none of the arrests are admissible to attack his credibility, nor is his sole conviction because it occurred more than ten years ago.
Nevertheless, the defendants argue that they are entitled to use evidence of McCadd's March 25, 2004, arrest for possession of cocaine, not to attack his credibility but, rather, as information defendant officer William Murphy used to corroborate an affidavit he obtained from a confidential informant, which he then used to establish probable cause for a warrant to search the McCadd home. Probable cause may be established by affidavit if the affidavit identifies sufficient evidence to convince a reasonable person that a search will uncover evidence of the alleged crime. United States v. Carmel, 548 F.3d 571, 575 (7th Cir. 2008). However, when an informant supplies the facts in the affidavit, the probable cause determination also turns on the informant's credibility, including the extent to which the informant's information can be corroborated. See United States v. Bell, 585 F.3d 1045, 1049-50 (7th Cir. 2008).
The plaintiffs contend that Murphy's review of the report of Harold's arrest is irrelevant because during his deposition Murphy stated that he used the arrest report only to verify Harold's address, not to confirm that the informant was telling the truth:
Q: You weren't using that [the arrest report] for any kind of indication [that] what John Doe was telling me was true?
A: No. . . . just to try to verify residency.
Murphy Deposition (attached as Exhibit A to Reply [81-1]) at 75 (lines 14-21).
Evidence of the steps officer Murphy took to corroborate the confidential informant's affidavit are relevant to whether the affidavit provided probable cause for the search warrant. If Murphy testifies at trial that he used the 2004 arrest to corroborate the informant, then evidence of the arrest shall not be excluded. To the extent that Murphy's prior deposition testimony is inconsistent with his anticipated trial testimony, the prior deposition testimony is available to impeach Murphy's trial testimony, but not to exclude it.
Accordingly, the motion in limine is granted in part and denied in part as follows: the motion to exclude evidence that Murphy reviewed McCadd's 2004 arrest to corroborate the informant's affidavit is denied, while the motion to exclude all other arrests and his prior conviction is granted. See Fed. R. Evid. 609.
Plaintiffs' Motion #2 to Exclude Evidence of Harold's Prior Drug Use
Next, the McCadds seek to exclude evidence of Harold's prior use of marijuana and cocaine. The defendants respond that they will not elicit such evidence unless Harold first opens the door. Accordingly, the motion to exclude evidence of Harold's prior drug use is granted unless Harold raises the issue himself.
Plaintiffs' Motion #3 to Bar Reference to Irrelevant Subjects
The McCadds move to bar any evidence of several matters that arose during their depositions but which they contend are irrelevant. Those five matters are: (1) that the plaintiffs receive public aid; (2) that Harold attended an alcohol rehabilitation program; (3) that Harold and friends may have smoked marijuana in his home before the second search; (4) 911 calls of narcotics sales at the McCadd home; and (5) empty baggies found under Harold's bed during the first search of his home. The defendants respond that they do not intend to introduce evidence about public aid or alcohol rehabilitation. Accordingly, the motion to exclude evidence on those two matters is granted.
The defendants respond that they also do not intend to introduce evidence that Harold may have used marijuana before the second search unless Harold opens the door by denying prior drug use. Accordingly, consistent with the court's ruling on plaintiffs' motion #2, evidence of Harold's prior drug use is excluded unless Harold raises the issue himself.
The defendants object to the motions to exclude evidence on the two remaining matters. First, the defendants contend that evidence of 911 calls reporting drugs sales at the McCadd's home are relevant because "a reasonable jury could infer that Mr. McCadd, one of only two residents at 9429 S. Loomis, was selling drugs from that residence." Response [79-1] at 4. However, to the extent the defendants are arguing that the reports of drug sales provided probable cause to search the McCadd home, the defendants do not contend that officers knew about the calls when obtaining the search warrant. Because probable cause turns on what officers knew at the time, and the defendants do not contend that officers knew about the 911 calls, the calls are not relevant to ...