Jonathan Henslee v. Singleton
UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Motion disposition in opinion--denying Motion to impose sanctions [1000231080-2]; denying as moot Motion to compel preparation of transcripts [1000223590-2] Originating case number: 1:13-cv-00090-GCM Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. .. [17-6611]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
JONATHAN LEIGH HENSLEE,
Plaintiff - Appellant,
SINGLETON, Avery/Mitchell Correctional Officer,
Defendant - Appellee.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina,
at Asheville. Graham C. Mullen, Senior District Judge. (1:13-cv-00090-GCM)
Submitted: February 22, 2018
Decided: March 12, 2018
Before KING and KEENAN, Circuit Judges, and HAMILTON, Senior Circuit Judge.
Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.
Jonathan Leigh Henslee, Appellant Pro Se. Yvonne Bulluck Ricci, Assistant Attorney
General, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Raleigh, North Carolina,
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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Jonathan Leigh Henslee, a North Carolina prisoner, filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(2012) action against Marty Singleton, a correctional officer at the Avery Mitchell
Correctional Institution, alleging that Singleton used excessive force against him by
spraying him in the face with pepper spray, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Following a trial during which Henslee was represented by counsel, the jury entered a
verdict in favor of Singleton. On appeal, Henslee argues that the district court erred in
permitting his criminal convictions for which he was then incarcerated to be admitted
into evidence. Second, Henslee argues that the district court erred by empaneling a juror
who knew the judge.
This court reviews the district court’s evidentiary rulings for abuse of discretion.
United States v. Faulls, 821 F.3d 502, 508 (4th Cir. 2016). Rule 609 of the Federal Rules
of Evidence governs the admissibility of a prior conviction for impeachment purposes.
Evidence that a testifying witness in a civil case was convicted of a crime “punishable by
death or by imprisonment for more than one year . . . must be admitted, subject to [Fed.
R. Evid.] 403.”
Fed. R. Evid. 609(a)(1)(A). This rule “is premised on the common
sense proposition that one who has transgressed society’s norms by committing a felony
is less likely than most to be deterred from lying under oath.” Walden v. Georgia–Pacific
Corp., 126 F.3d 506, 523 (3d Cir. 1997) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted);
see Knight ex rel. Kerr v. Miami-Dade Cty., 856 F.3d 795, 817 (11th Cir. 2017) (“[t]he
implicit assumption of Rule 609 is that prior felony convictions have probative value”
(internal quotation marks omitted)). Under Rule 403, relevant evidence may be excluded
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“if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of . . . unfair prejudice,
confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly
presenting cumulative evidence.” Fed. R. Evid. 403.
Henslee argues that the prejudice of admitting his criminal history outweighed the
probative value because he contends that it biased the jury against him. We conclude that
the probative value outweighed any unfair prejudice, particularly in light of the district
court’s limiting jury instruction that the convictions were to be considered only for
purposes of determining Henslee’s credibility.
Ancillary to his challenge to the court’s evidentiary ruling, Henslee claims that the
court did not provide him with adequate notice that it would admit his convictions into
evidence. We conclude that this claim is patently frivolous. Henslee knew that Singleton
planned to introduce his criminal record into evidence and filed a motion in limine to
attempt to prevent its admission. Therefore, Henslee had the opportunity to prepare for
the possibility that the court would rule in Singleton’s favor.
As to Henslee’s claim that the district court erred by failing to exclude the juror
who was acquainted with the trial judge, Henslee did not object in the district court to the
inclusion of the juror. Therefore, he failed to preserve this challenge for appeal. See
McNeill v. Polk, 476 F.3d 206, 225 (4th Cir. 2007) (holding that right to challenge a juror
is waived by failing to object at time jury is empaneled if basis for objection was known
or could have been discovered during voir dire).
Accordingly, we affirm the judgment. We deny as moot Henslee’s motion to
compel preparation of transcripts and deny Henslee’s motion for sanctions. We dispense
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with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in
the materials before this court and argument would not aid the decisional process.
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