United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Kim United States Magistrate Judge
Brooks, Sr. brings this action against the City of Chicago
and Officers Daniel Solis and Peter Spain (collectively,
"Defendants") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
claiming that Officers Solis and Spain violated his
constitutional rights by detaining him in police custody for
an excessively long period and in unreasonable conditions of
confinement. Before the court are Brooks's motions in
limine Nos. 1-10 and Defendants' motions in
limine Nos. 1-18. Brooks' Motion Nos. 2, 3, and 6
and Defendants' Motion Nos. 1, 3, 7-11, and 13-16 are not
opposed. For the following reasons, Brooks's Motion Nos.
1-4, 6-8, and 10 are granted, Brooks's Motion Nos. 5 and
9 are denied, Defendants' Motion Nos. 1-3 and 5-18 are
granted, and Defendants' Motion No. 4 is denied:
not expressly authorized by the Federal Rules of Evidence,
the authority to make rulings on motions in limine
springs from the court's inherent authority to manage
trials. Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4
(1984); Jenkins v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 316 F.3d
663, 664 (7th Cir. 2002). Motions in limine are used
to "exclude evidence before trial in order to prevent
the trial from being interrupted by wrangles over
admissibility or the jury from getting a whiff of prejudicial
evidence that may in fact be inadmissible." Am.
Int'l Adjustment Co. v. Galvin, 86 F.3d 1455, 1463
(7th Cir. 1996). But because the primary aim of in
limine motions is to exclude evidence that is
inadmissible on any ground, some rulings are best left until
trial so that the context, foundation, and relevance of the
contested evidence can be better understood. Anglin v.
Sears, Roebuck & Co., 139 F.Supp.2d 914, 917 (N.D.
Ill. 2001) (noting that evidence should be excluded, in
limine, only to the extent that clearly inadmissible
evidence is eliminated). As such, neither a ruling granting a
motion in limine, nor a ruling denying one, needs to
be the final word on the matter. The court is free to revisit
the following rulings during trial. Luce, 469 U.S.
Brooks's Motions in Limine
filed 10 motions in limine on June 19, 2017. (R. 82,
Pl's Mot. No. 1; R. 84-93, Pl's Mot. Nos. 2-10.)
Defendants oppose the following seven motions: Motion Nos. 1,
4, 5, 7-10. (R. 94, Defs.' Resp.)
Motion Nos. 1, 8 & 10.
seeks to prevent Defendants from referencing his prior
arrests, convictions, and criminal history. (R. 84; R. 91; R.
asserts that his prior arrests that did not lead to an
admissible conviction should be barred from trial. (Pl's
Mot. No. 1 at 1-2, 4-5; Pl's Mot. No. 8 at 1-3; Pl's
Mot. No. 10 at 1-4.) Defendants argue in response that
because they expect Brooks to testify about alleged emotional
damages resulting from the conditions of his confinement
(i.e., being allegedly handcuffed to a wall for an extended
period), his previous arrests and convictions, including at
least one prison term, are fair game to rebut his testimony
about emotional trauma from his detention. (R. 94, Defs.'
Resp. at 2.)
is correct that prior arrests not leading to convictions are
viewed as inadmissible character evidence. See Betts v.
City of Chicago, 784 F.Supp.2d 1020, 1024 (N.D. Ill.
2001) (prior arrests inadmissible under Rules 402 and
404(b)). Under Rule 404(b), "[e]vidence of other crimes,
wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a
person in order to show action in conformity therewith."
However, other decisions in this district are supportive of
Defendants' position that prior arrests may be admitted
to rebut testimony about the emotional trauma of an arrest.
Goodman v. Babicz, No. 09 CV 5954, 2013 WL 146377,
at *8 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 14, 2013) (finding the fact that a
plaintiff had been arrested and jailed two dozen times
"was probative of the extent of his emotional
distress"); Gribben v. City of Summit, No. 08
CV 123, 2010 WL 2928094, at *3 (N.D. Ill. July 20, 2010)
("If presented with evidence that [the plaintiff] had
been arrested and incarcerated numerous times in the past,
the jury could conclude that [the plaintiff] would not have
been as emotionally traumatized by the arrest... as he claims
to have been.").
is also an argument to be made that prior arrests could
sensitize, rather than desensitize, a
person to the trauma of being placed and held in custody.
Betts, 784 F.Supp.2d at 1025; see also
Cianfaglione v. Rogers, No. 10 CV 2170, 2012 WL 1982536,
at *6 (CD. Ill. June 4, 2012) (concluding that defendants had
not adequately shown that the plaintiffs prior arrest record
was significant enough to be used to undercut her claim for
emotional damages). Some courts have reasoned that the
admissibility of prior arrests-even if intended to show
significant contact between the plaintiff and police in order
to undercut a claim of emotional damages-depends on how
analogous those previous arrests were in comparison to the
arrest in question. See, e.g., Moore v. City of
Chicago, No. 02 CV 5130, 2008 WL 4549137, at *1 (N.D.
Ill. April 15, 2008); Brandon v. Village of May
wood, 179 F.Supp.2d 847, 855 (N.D. Ill. 2001). In
Moore the court found that "to be relevant, the
arrests must be substantially similar and the court must
conduct a prejudice analysis." Moore, 2008 WL
4549137, at *1. Likewise, in Brandon the court
refused to allow evidence of prior arrests because
"[t]here is no indication that [plaintiffs] previous
arrests involved similar facts, so their probative value is
quite low." Brandon, 179 F.Supp.2d at 855.
party has presented the court with a comprehensive list of
Brooks's prior arrests, let alone facts that might allow
the court to differentiate between the prior arrests and
neither party has cited any evidence that Brooks's
previous brushes with the law have conditioned him to readily
accept any physical or psychological impact associated with
being held in custody or that prior arrests have sensitized
him to being taken into custody. Absent such information, the
court is unable to engage in any meaningful analysis to
either admit or exclude evidence of Brooks's prior
arrests prior to Brooks's trial testimony.
also contend if Brooks raises his character for truthfulness,
then he will have opened the door and they should be
permitted to raise the issue of his arrest history. (R. 94,
Defs.' Resp. at 2.) To be sure, there are myriad ways
that Brooks could open the door to his prior arrests.
However, the risk of unfair prejudice to Brooks is
considerable if prior arrest evidence is admitted without the
door being opened first. For these reasons, Brooks's
Motion Nos. 1, 8, and 10 are granted with respect to ...