United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
LINZIE J. LEDBETTER, Plaintiff,
GOOD SAMARITAN MINISTRIES, a Project of Interfaith Counsel, BOBBY ANDERSON and MICHAEL HEATH, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
R. HERNDON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are two motions in limine brought
by Plaintiff Linzie J. Ledbetter (Doc. 67). Defendants
responded to plaintiff's motions (Doc. 155). Accordingly,
the motions in limine are ripe for resolution. Based
on the following, the Court GRANTS both motions.
first motion in limine seeks to preclude defendants
from introducing evidence of, or referring to,
Ledbetter's prior felony conviction pursuant to Federal
Rule of Evidence 609. Plaintiff Ledbetter was convicted of a
felony on July 16, 1991. He argues that Federal Rule of
Evidence 609(b) applies in this case to prevent the defense
from introducing Ledbetter's prior conviction during
Rule of Evidence 609(b) severely limits the use of a prior
conviction to impeach a witness if a period of more than ten
years has elapsed since the conviction or the witness's
release from any confinement imposed for that conviction. As
mentioned above, the rule generally excludes convictions more
than ten years old; however, the rule does include an
exception that permits a Court to allow use of remote
convictions under limited circumstances:
“Evidence of a conviction under this rule is not
admissible if a period of more than ten years has
elapsed… unless the court determines, in the
interests of justice, that the probative value of the
conviction supported by specific facts and circumstances
substantially outweighs its prejudicial effect.”
Fed.R.Evid. 609(b)(emphasis added).
argue that they meet the exception set forth in Rule 609(b).
Specifically, defendants argue that they do not plan to use
Ledbetter's prior conviction to attack his credibility,
but instead they intend to use it as part of their defense.
Defendants argue that facts surround his conviction are
relevant in order to set out a clear picture for the jury of
all events that occurred during plaintiff's employment at
Good Samaritan. For example, the defendants point out that
Good Samaritan's contract with Illinois Department of
Human Services (hereinafter “IDHS”) prohibited
the employment of convicted felons. However, when Defendant
Heath took over as Executive Director and learned of this
prohibition, he filed a request with IDHS to waive the ban
for two convicted felons, one being the plaintiff. Thus,
defendants argue that the probative value of the facts of
plaintiff's historical employment with Good Samaritan,
including facts surrounding his felony conviction,
substantially outweighs the possible prejudice to the
plaintiff. See U.S. v. Mahone, 537 F.2d 922, 929
(7th Cir. 1976) cert. denied 429 U.S. 1025 (1976).
Seventh Circuit has previously held, “Rule 609(b) is
not an absolute bar to the admission of a prior conviction
that is more than ten years old; it is, instead, an
asymmetrical balancing test, one that requires the probative
value of a prior conviction to substantially
outweigh the prejudice caused by its admission into
evidence.” United States v. Rogers, 542 F.3d
197, 201 (7th Cir. 2008).
case, the plaintiff's felony conviction falls outside of
the parameters admissibility per Rule 609(b). However, as
noted above, the rule does offer guidance to this Court
regarding the balancing test at issue involving prejudice
versus probative value as discussed in Rule 403.
Rule of Evidence 403 dictates that the Court “may
exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is
substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the
following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading
the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting
cumulative evidence.” Fed.R.Evid. 403. Even though the
Court would likely have discretion to allow its admission
under the authority cited by the defendant, the Court finds
that the probative value of the prior conviction fails to
substantially outweigh its prejudice in this case.
balancing the probative value against the prejudicial nature
of the prior felony conviction, the Court finds there to be
more potential for prejudice to the plaintiff, than probative
value to the defendant in this case. Accordingly, the Court
GRANTS plaintiffs first motion in limine.
Dismissal and Notice of Rights Letter
second motion in limine seeks to exclude any
evidence of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC) Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter issued to the
Plaintiff Ledbetter. Plaintiff asserts that the EEOC did not
issue a report of any kind, but simply sent its standard
right-to-sue letter (Doc. 67, ¶8). In their response,
defendants do not object to plaintiffs ...