United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
JOHN V. NORRIS Plaintiff,
OFFICER BARTUNEK, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Jeffrey T. Gilbert Magistrate Judge
lawsuit, Plaintiff John V. Norris ("Norris")
asserts claims for unlawful seizure, false imprisonment, and
malicious prosecution against Defendant Brett Bartunek
("Bartunek") With a trial date of November 1, 2017
on the horizon, each party has filed two motions in
limine, Defendant's Motions in Limine
("Defendant's Motions in Limine"),
[ECF No. 112]; Plaintiff John Norris's Motion in
Limine No. 1 to Bar Evidence regarding His Prior Arrests
and Felony Convictions ("Plaintiffs Motion in
Limine No. 1"), [ECF No. 113]; Plaintiff John
Norris's Motion in Limine No. 2 to Bar Evidence
regarding His Other Lawsuits ("Plaintiffs Motion in
Limine No. 2"), [ECF No. 114], For the reasons
stated below, Plaintiffs motions in limine are
granted in part [ECF Nos. 113, 114] and remain under
advisement in part [ECF No. 113], and Defendant's motions
in limine [ECF No. 112] are granted in part and
denied without prejudice in part.
facts underlying this case, which are described in the
Court's summary judgment ruling, are straightforward.
See Norris v. Bartunek, 2017 WL 390274 (N.D. 111.
Jan. 27, 2017). One evening, in April 2015, Norris was
driving a car on a road with a posted speed limit of 45 miles
per hour. Bartunek, a Will County Deputy Sheriff on routine
patrol, claims he saw Norris speed by him at 55 miles per
hour. Norris says he was not driving that fast and, instead,
stayed at or below the speed limit. The parties agree that
Bartunek pulled Norris over and, during a stop that lasted
about 10 minutes, gave Norris a ticket for going 55 miles an
hour in a 45-zone.
month after the stop, Norris went to traffic court and
entered a plea of not guilty. A bench trial was set for June.
On the designated day, Norris appeared, but Bartunek, who was
the complaining witness, did not, According to Bartunek, he
did not know that a trial date had been set. The state court
dismissed the speeding charge against Norris. The traffic
stop and the significance of the dismissal of the speeding
charge are at issue in this case.
district court has the inherent authority to manage the
course of a trial. Luce v. United States, 469 U.S.
38, 41 n.4 (1984). The court may exercise this power by
issuing an evidentiary ruling in advance of trial.
Id. A party may seek such a ruling by filing a
motion in limine, which requests the court's
guidance on what evidence will (or will not) be admitted at
trial. Perry v. City of Chicago, 733 F.3d 248, 252
(7th Cir. 2013). Prudent motions in limine serve a
gatekeeping function by allowing the judge "to eliminate
from further consideration evidentiary submissions that
clearly ought not be presented to the jury."
Jonasson v. Lutheran Child & Family Servs,, 115
F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir. 1997). By defining the evidentiary
boundaries, motions in limine both permit "the
parties to focus their preparation on those matters that will
be considered by the jury, '" id, and help
ensure "that trials are not interrupted mid-course for
the consideration of lengthy and complex evidentiary issues,
" United States v. Tokash, 282 F.3d 962, 968
(7th Cir. 2002).
all evidentiary matters, the court has broad discretion when
ruling on motions in limine. United States v. Ajayi,
808 F.3d 1113, 1121 (7th Cir. 2015); Jenkins v. Chrysler
Motors Corp., 316 F.3d 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2002).
Moreover, the court can change its ruling at trial,
"even if nothing unexpected happens."
Luce, 469 U.S. at 41. Rulings in limine are
speculative in effect; essentially, they are advisory
opinions. Wilson v. Williams, 182 F.3d 562, 570 (7th
Cir. 1999) (Coffey, J., concurring in part and dissenting in
court will grant a motion in limine to bar evidence
only where that evidence is clearly inadmissible for any
purpose, Taylor v. Union Pac. R. Co., 2010 WL
5421298, at *1 (S.D. 111. Dec. 27, 2010). This is a high
standard. Thomas v. Sheahan, 514 F.Supp.2d 1083,
1087 (N.D. 111. 2007). The moving party bears the burden of
establishing clear inadmissibility. Euroholdings Capital
& Inv. Corp. v. Harris Trust & Sav. Bank, 602
F.Supp.2d 928, 934 (N.D. 111. 2009). If the moving party
cannot satisfy his burden, the evidentiary ruling should be
deferred until trial. Green v. Goodyear Dunlop Tires N.
Am., Ltd., 2010 WL 747501, at *1 (S.D. 111. Mar. 2,
2010). That is because, at trial, the court will have the
benefit of understanding "the context, foundation, and
relevance of the contested evidence within the framework of
the trial as a whole." Casares v. Bemal, 790
F.Supp.2d 769, 775 (N.D. 111. 2011).
noted above, there are four motions in limine now
before the Court, The Court will address Norris's motions
first and then turn to Bartunek's motions.
Plaintiffs Motion in Limine No.
first motion in limine, Norris seeks to bar evidence
of his prior convictions and arrests. Plaintiffs Motion
in Limine No. 1, [ECF No. 113]. Bartunek argues
evidence of Norris's four felony convictions for retail
theft, all of which occurred within the past ten years, is
admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 609.
Defendant's Response to Plaintiffs Motions in
Limine ("Defendant's Response"), [ECF No.
117], at 1. Norris disagrees, asserting admission of his
prior convictions would be highly prejudicial and have little
or no probative value.
Rule 609(a)(1)(A), a felony conviction is admissible to
attack a witness's character for truthfulness subject to
Rule 403. Fed.R.Evid. 609(a)(1)(A). Rule 403 permits courts
to exclude evidence when the risk of unfair prejudice
substantially outweighs the probative value. Fed.R.Evid. 403.
In criminal cases, courts consider five factors when
determining the probative value and prejudicial effect of a
conviction: "(1) the impeachment value of the prior
crime; (2) the point in time of the conviction and the
witness's subsequent history; (3) the similarity between
the past crime and the charged crime; (4) the importance of
the defendant's testimony; and (5) the centrality of the
credibility issue." United States v.
Montgomery,390 F.3d 1013, 1015 (7th Cir. 2004).
"While not all of those factors will apply in civil
cases, the same general concerns may illuminate the
court's analysis." T ...