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Ryan v. Koester

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 17, 2013

TIMOTHY E. RYAN and BRANDON HARGRAVE, Plaintiffs,
v.
DEPUTY TRAVIS KOESTER, in his Individual and Official Capacities at the Sangamon County Sheriff's Office, and SANGAMON COUNTY, Defendants.

OPINION

RICHARD MILLS, District Judge.

This is a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, wherein Plaintiffs Timothy E. Ryan and Brandon Hargrave allege the Defendants violated their constitutional rights. Pending is the Motion in Limine of Defendants Travis Koester and Sangamon County, wherein the Defendants seek an Order barring the testimony of certain witnesses.

I.

Defendant Travis Koester is a deputy with the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department. The Plaintiffs' claims arise out of Koester's arrest of the Plaintiffs on separate occasions for driving under the influence (DUI). The Plaintiffs allege that Koester arrested them for DUI without probable cause, falsely imprisoned them, and committed the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress related to his arrest of the Plaintiffs and during the resulting criminal prosecutions. The Plaintiffs' claims against Koester are in his official and individual capacity.

In their Complaint, the Plaintiffs cited portions of the transcripts from their statutory summary suspension (SSS) hearings, over which Sangamon County Judges John M. Madonia and Christopher Perrin presided. Following the SSS hearings, Judge Madonia and Judge Perrin rescinded the Plaintiffs' suspensions finding, as a matter of law, there was no probable cause to arrest the Plaintiffs. In the case of Plaintiff Hargrave, Judge Perrin found there was insufficient evidence to even meet the lower standard requiring Hargrave to submit to a portable breath test.

Upon rescinding the Plaintiffs' suspensions, both Judge Madonia and Judge Perrin commented extremely unfavorably on Koester's credibility.

The Plaintiffs' initial disclosures identify "All employees of the Sangamon County Circuit Clerk's Office, court reporters and judges who were present in court on June 22, 2012 and May 4, 2012 at the respective Statutory Summary Suspension Hearings for the Plaintiffs."

Based on the foregoing, the Defendants state that it appears the Plaintiffs intend to support their claims with evidence of what occurred at their SSS hearings, including calling of witnesses, including the judges, to testify regarding Defendant Koester's credibility at those hearings. The Defendants claim that any such testimony is irrelevant and not likely to lead to the discovery of relevant and admissible evidence.

Accordingly, the Defendants seek a pretrial ruling on the admissibility of this evidence.

The Plaintiffs note that in an unrelated case, Calvin Christian v. City of Springfield, 2011 MR 633, that police internal affairs files were public records subject to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The Plaintiffs attach an August 15, 2013 Illinois Times article entitled "Pants on Fire." The article, which was written by Bruce Rushton, suggests that in 2010 Koester apparently lied under oath during the preliminary hearing in People v. Gregory Roberts, Sangamon County Case 2010 CF 220.

Based on the foregoing, the Plaintiffs allege this corroborates the opinions of Judges Perrin and Madonia that Koester is untruthful.

II.

The Defendants contend the testimony at issue is beyond the scope of relevant discovery and inadmissible under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b). Rule 26(b) permits discovery of any "non-privileged matter that is relevant to the party's claims or defense." "Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." See Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b). The applicable pattern jury instruction provides, "There is probable cause for an arrest if at the moment the arrest was made, a prudent person would have believed that Plaintiff [had committed/was committing] a crime." 7th Cir. P.I. 7.06. The elements of false arrest and false imprisonment are the same. See Meerbrey v. Marshall Field and Co., Inc., 139 Ill.2d 455, 474 (1990).

Based on the applicable law, therefore, the Defendants note that the relevant inquiry as to the false arrest and imprisonment claims involves what was known to and believed by Koester at the time he arrested ...


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