Miller v. Schmitz et al

Filing 101

TENTATIVE RULING ON THE PARTIES' PROPOSED SPECIAL VERDICT FORMS signed by District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill on November 14, 2013. (Munoz, I)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 ISAAC MILLER, TENTATIVE RULING ON THE PARTIES’ PROPOSED SPECIAL VERDICT FORMS Plaintiff, 12 v. 13 14 Case No. 1:12-cv-0137 LJO SAB (Docs. 82 & 89) HANFORD POLICE OFFICER STEVE SCHMITZ, et al., 15 Defendants. 16 / 17 18 The Court tentatively rules on the parties’ proposed special verdict forms as follows: 19 1. Defendants’ Proposed Question Nos. 1, 2, and 3 track the elements of Plaintiff’s 20 malicious prosecution claim as outlined in Joint Jury Instruction No. 33. These 21 instructions are therefore generally accepted,1 with one major modification. 22 Defendants’ Proposed Question No. 1 will be modified so that if the jury answers “No” 23 to the question, the jury will be instructed to sign, date, and return the verdict form; the 24 jury will not be asked to proceed to the question regarding expungement of records. 25 Unless the parties are able to explain otherwise, it appears that Plaintiff’s expungement 26 27 28 1 As with all proposed special verdict questions, the Court may alter the precise wording of these questions as it sees fit. The parties will be provided a draft special verdict at the outset of trial, and the parties may request further alterations if necessary. 1 1 of records claim necessarily fails if the jury finds that Officer Schmitz had probable 2 cause to arrest Plaintiff in Defendants’ Proposed Question No. 1. 2. 3 Defendants’ Proposed Question No. 6 (independent prosecutorial immunity) is 4 generally accepted, with two major modifications. First, language will be added to 5 make it clear that Defendants are the ones who bear the ultimate burden of persuasion 6 regarding prosecutorial independence. Second, this question will be given after the 7 question on intent to deprive Plaintiff of his Fourth Amendment Rights (Defendants’ 8 Proposed Question No. 3) and before the parties’ joint proposed question on whether 9 Officer Schmitz’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing Plaintiff harm. This order seems more logical. 10 3. 11 All the parties’ joint proposed questions are generally accepted, with one major 12 modification. The parties’ joint proposed question regarding punitive damages will (1) 13 be modified so that “fraudulent” is omitted; and (2) refer to “punitive damages” as 14 “further damages” instead. It is this Court’s practice to avoid using the term “punitive 15 damages” in jury instructions and verdict forms. 16 17 18 19 IT IS SO ORDERED. 20 21 22 Dated: /s/ Lawrence J. O’Neill November 14, 2013 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE DEAC_Signature-END: b9ed48bb 23 24 25 26 27 28 2

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