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Gowder v. Bucki

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

November 26, 2013

TERRY GOWDER, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
POLICE OFFICER WALTER BUCKI, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on the parties' motions in limine. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff Terry Gowder, Jr.'s (Gowder) motions are denied, and Defendant Officer Walter Bucki's (Bucki) motions are granted.

DISCUSSION

I. Gowder's Motions in Limine

Gowder has brought nine motions in limine.

A. Gowder's Motion in Limine Number 1

Gowder requests in motion in limine number 1 (Gowder Motion Number 1) that the court bar argument or the introduction of evidence that Bucki received accolades, awards, or commendations during the course of his police work. Bucki indicates that he does not intend to make such arguments or introduce such evidence. (Ans. G Mot. 1). Therefore, Gowder Motion Number 1 is denied as moot. The court notes that evidence concerning Bucki's prior performance records may become relevant if Gowder opens the door by attempting to introduce evidence concerning such matters.

B. Gowder's Motion in Limine Number 2

Gowder requests in motion in limine number 2 (Gowder Motion Number 2) that the court permit Gowder to treat two non-defendant Chicago police officers as adverse witnesses. The court notes that Bucki filed a motion in limine (Bucki Motion Number 17), requesting that the court bar Gowder from doing so. (D Mot. 12).

Bucki has no objection to Gowder designating him as an adverse witness, but Bucki argues that Gowder may not simply treat the non-party officers as adverse witnesses by default. (D Mot. 12). Gowder has failed to demonstrate that any other police officer witness is either an adverse party or identified with an adverse party. The mere fact that the officers may work with Bucki does not mean that they will not be forthcoming in their testimony or should be deemed adverse witnesses. Therefore, Gowder Motion Number 2 is denied.

C. Gowder's Motion in Limine Number 3

Gowder requests in motion in limine number 3 (Gowder Motion Number 3) that the court bar argument or the introduction of evidence about the lack of other complaints, disciplinary action, sustained complaint registers, or lawsuit judgments against Bucki. Bucki indicates that he does not intend to make such arguments or introduce such evidence. (Ans. G Mot. 1). Therefore, Gowder Motion Number 3 is denied as moot. The court notes that, as with Gowder Motion Number 1, evidence concerning Bucki's lack of disciplinary or complaint history may become relevant if Gowder opens the door by attempting to introduce evidence concerning such matters.

D. Gowder's Motion in Limine Number 4

Gowder requests in motion in limine number 4 (Gowder Motion Number 4) that the court bar argument or the introduction of evidence relating to the circumstances under which Gowder's attorneys were employed or retained, including fee arrangements agreed to by Gowder. Bucki indicates that he does not intend to make such argument or introduce such evidence. (Ans. G Mot. 2). Therefore, Gowder Motion Number 4 is denied as moot.

E. Gowder's Motion in Limine Number 5

Gowder requests in motion in limine number 5 (Gowder Motion Number 5) that the court bar argument or the introduction of evidence regarding improper and prejudicial themes in cases against police officers, including: (a) that Gowder has asked for more money than he expects to be awarded, (b) that defense counsel is personally shocked by the magnitude of the damages request, (c) that Gowder views this case as a chance to win the lottery, (d) that being a police officer is a thankless or unappreciated job, (e) that police officers place themselves in danger for the public good, and (f) that a verdict against Bucki will deter this officer and other officers from protecting society. (G Mot. 2). Bucki indicates that he does not intend to make argument or introduce evidence regarding the subject matter in sub-parts (b), (e), and (f). (Ans. G Mot. 2). Therefore, sub-parts (b), (e), and (f) of Gowder Motion Number 5 are denied as moot.

Regarding sub-parts (a), (c), and (d), Bucki opposes the motion. As to subparts (a) and (c), evidence relating to motive in bringing the instant action would be relevant for the jury in ascertaining whether to award Gowder compensatory and punitive damages. As to subpart (d) being sued in his capacity as a police officer, Bucki correctly points out that some evidence concerning the nature of his work may be relevant in assessing the reasonableness of his conduct. Therefore, sub-parts (a), (c), and (d) of Gowder Motion Number 5 are denied.

F. Gowder's Motion in Limine Number 6

Gowder requests in motion in limine number 6 (Gowder Motion Number 6) that the court bar argument or the introduction of evidence indicating that Bucki acted in accordance with the policies of the Chicago Police Department to the extent that the evidence relates to the existence or non-existence of a constitutional violation. Bucki agrees that the use of training and general orders may not be used to show the existence or non-existence of a constitutional violation, pursuant to Thompson v. City of Chicago, 472 F.3d 444 (7th Cir. 2006). Bucki indicates, however, that he intends to introduce testimony concerning Bucki's training or knowledge of general orders and that he should be allowed to introduce evidence that he followed rules or training provided to him by the ...


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