United States of America, v. Brown
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order Signed by the Honorable Marvin E. Aspen on 1/19/2017: Defendant's motion in limine 36 granted in part and denied in part.Mailed notice(mad, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, EASTERN DIVISION
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
IRVING BROWN, SR., D/B/A
IRVING BROWN SR. TAX SERVICES
No. 15 CV 3283
Hon. Marvin E. Aspen
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Presently before us is Defendant Irving Brown, Sr.’s motion in limine to exclude various
potential exhibits on hearsay grounds. (Mtn. (Dkt. No. 36) at 1–2.) For the reasons stated
below, Brown’s motion is granted in part and denied in part.
We have broad discretion, based on our “inherent authority to manage the course of
trials,” when ruling on evidentiary questions presented in motions in limine. Luce v. United
States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4, 105 S. Ct. 460, 463 n.4 (1984); Jenkins v. Chrysler Motors Corp.,
316 F.3d 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2002). Rulings on motions in limine allow us to “eliminate from
further consideration evidentiary submissions . . . [that] clearly would be inadmissible for any
purpose.” Jonasson v. Lutheran Child and Family Servs., 115 F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir. 1997).
For those evidentiary submissions that “cannot be evaluated accurately or sufficiently,” we must
“defer ruling until during trial.” Id.
In jury trials, rulings on motions in limine must often be deferred “so that questions of
foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice may be resolved in the proper context.”
Tzoumis v. Tempel Steel Co., 168 F. Supp. 2d 871, 873–74 (N.D. Ill. 2001) (internal quotation
marks omitted) (quoting Hawthorne Partners v. AT & T Techs., Inc., 831 F. Supp 1398, 1400
(N.D. Ill. 1993)). Because such concerns are minimal in bench trials, as here, rulings on motions
in limine are less important. United States v. Shukri, 207 F.3d 412, 419 (7th Cir. 2000) (“In a
bench trial, we assume that the district court was not influenced by evidence improperly brought
before it unless there is evidence to the contrary.”); see, e.g., City of Joliet v. Mid-City Nat. Bank
of Chi., No. 05 C 6746, 2012 WL 5463792, at *11 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 5, 2012) (denying a motion in
limine because “Rule 403’s concerns carry significantly less weigh in a bench trial, where there
is a presumption that the court is not improperly influenced by the evidence brought before it”);
Barna v. United States, 183 F.R.D. 235, 239 (N.D. Ill. 1998) (“[M]otions in limine to strike party
experts are less important in bench trials . . . I will decide at trial whether the opinions should be
given credence and what weight to attach to them.”) Finally, a ruling on a motion in limine is
“subject to change as the case unfolds,” and so we reserve the option of revisiting our
preliminary evidentiary determinations as appropriate at trial. Luce, 469 U.S. at 41, 105 S. Ct.
In his sole motion in limine, Brown seeks “an order barring the introduction into
evidence [of] documents and hearsay assertions” contained in the United States’ various
proposed exhibits. (Mtn. at 1.) Brown’s motion is unopposed with regard to nine of the United
States’ proposed exhibits. (Resp. (Dkt. No. 44) at 1.) Specifically, the United States agrees its
proposed exhibits including the declaration of Kenneth George; the affidavit and declaration of
Kenneth Wiggins; the affidavits of Stephen Holmes, Andre Wright, and Priscilla Wright; and the
deposition transcripts of Irving Brown, Jr., Tuiana Brown, Lewis Darling, and Carl Douglas
“contain hearsay assertions and may not be admitted into evidence for the truth of the matters
asserted therein.” (Resp at 1; see Mtn. at 2 (listing exhibits).) Thus, the United States shall not
offer those exhibits into evidence for the truth of the matters asserted therein.
The United States opposes Brown’s motion to the extent it seeks to bar the introduction
of the declarations of Curtis Young, Timothy Cox, and Katrena Dear. (Resp. at 1.) After the
United States proposed those declarations as exhibits to Brown, we issued an Order requiring the
parties to “submit the direct testimony of all witnesses by declaration prior to trial,” while also
requiring they “make their witnesses available live for cross-examination and re-direct during
trial.” (Order (Dkt. No. 34) at 1.) The United States then submitted the declarations of Curtis
Young, Timothy Cox, and Katrena Dear as direct examination declarations, “properly executed
and submitted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746.” (Resp. at 1; see also Dkt. No. 39 (listing the
United States’ direct testimony declarations).) Insofar as Brown’s motion seeks to bar the
introduction of these declarations properly submitted as direct testimony declarations for the
purposes of the bench trial, we deny his motion. See Fed. R. Evid. 611(a) (“The Court should
exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of examining witnesses and presenting
evidence as to (1) make those procedures effective for determining the truth; (2) avoiding
wasting time; and (3) protection witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment.”); In re
Gergely, 110 F.3d 1448, 1452 (9th Cir. 1997) (citing In re Adair, 965 F.2d 777, 779
(9th Cir. 1992)) (“The pretrial order required written declarations in lieu of direct oral evidence.
It was a valid order.”).
For the foregoing reasons we grant Brown’s motion in limine in part, and deny it in part.
It is so ordered.
Marvin E. Aspen
United States District Judge
Dated: January 19, 2017
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