Staszak v. USA
ORDER denying 56 Motion in Limine; granting in part and denying in part 57 Motion in Limine. The nature of the Plaintiff's prior conviction shall not be admissible at trial, thus Plaintiff's first motion in limine is GRANTED and the Government's is DENIED. All other concerns raised by the parties appear to have been largely resolved by their responses to each other's motions. Thus, the Government's motions 2-4 and the Plaintiff's second motion are DENIED as moot. Appropriate objections may be made at trial.. Signed by Chief Judge Michael J. Reagan on 11/9/2017. (kgk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
MATTHEW L. STASZAK,
Case No. 15-cv-0812-MJR-SCW
REAGAN, Chief Judge:
This matter is before the Court for a ruling on the pending Motions in Limine (Docs. 56,
57). Trial will commence on Monday, November 13, 2017. The Government’s Motion in Limine
presents four arguments (Doc. 56), and the Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine presents two (Doc. 57).
The parties filed timely responses to the motions (Docs. 62, 65). The underlying trial will
address Plaintiff’s claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) that one U.S. Marshal
punched him in the face while effectuating an arrest and that another U.S. Marshal failed to
intervene or report the incident. In the interest of a speedy and efficient trial, the Court will
now rule on the motions in limine.
The Government first contends that it should be allowed to introduce evidence of the
nature of Plaintiff’s prior conviction to attack Plaintiff’s credibility at trial (Doc. 56).
Government argues that the prior conviction is admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence
609(a)(1)(A) because it is a felony level offense punishable by more than a year imprisonment.
Rule 609 mandates the admission of a prior criminal conviction punishable by more than a year
of imprisonment, subject to the Rule 403 substantial prejudice balancing test. The Seventh
Circuit has held that the impeachment value of Rule 609 prior crime evidence is particularly
important where witness credibility matters, such as when it is one party’s testimony against
the testimony of a law enforcement party. See United States v. Montgomery, 390 F.3d 1013,
1015 (7th Cir. 2004) (held that defendant’s prior conviction was admissible to impeach him
because his credibility was at issue in a swearing contest between him and a police officer).
The Plaintiff counters that the nature of his prior crime should not be admitted because it is
inflammatory, but as a substitute, the Court could admit evidence that he is currently
This case will ultimately turn on witness credibility, but the Court is not persuaded that
it should admit evidence of the nature of Plaintiff’s prior offense to test his credibility.
Plaintiff’s prior offense—a sex offense involving minors—is highly inflammatory. Rule 403
counsels against the admission of evidence that presents a substantial risk of prejudice.
Accordingly, the Court DENIES the Government’s first motion in limine.
Second, the Government moves to exclude the introduction of complete deposition
transcripts of lay witnesses (Kevin Combs, Carol Leeman, Dr. Byron Williamson, and Carl
In response the Plaintiff explains that he does not intend to offer the entire
deposition transcripts at trial. He only listed the full transcripts on his exhibit list to ensure that
if he needed to rely on a portion of a transcript for impeachment, the transcript would be
available and admissible. In essence, Plaintiff’s response negates the concerns raised by the
Government’s second motion. Thus, the Government’s second motion in limine is DENIED as
moot. Appropriate and timely objections may be made at trial if deposition transcripts are to be
used for impeachment purposes.
Third, the Government moves to exclude the admission of entire deposition transcripts
of three U.S. Marshals (Clark Meadows, Kevin Castleman, and James Robertson).
Government contends that the transcripts are admissions by a party opponent, but they may
not be relevant, and thus, should not be admitted whole cloth. As with the second motion in
limine, the Plaintiff responds that he does not intend to introduce the transcripts in their
In light of the Plaintiff’s response, the Government’s third motion in limine is
DENIED as moot. Proper objections may be made at trial.
Fourth, the Government moves to limit the scope of Dr. Byron Williamson’s testimony
because Williamson was not disclosed as an expert witness in accord with Federal Rule of Civil
Plaintiff agrees the testimony can be limited save for the extent where
Williamson’s testimony may be inextricably intertwined with his expertise as a physician.
Given the overwhelming agreement between the parties on this issue, the Court DENIES the
Government’s motion in limine as moot. Appropriate objections can be made a trial if and
when the issue arises.
The Plaintiff’s first motion in limine seeks exclusion of the nature of his prior conviction.
The Court addressed this issue with the Government’s first motion in limine, so there is no need
to address it again. Plaintiff’s first motion in limine is hereby GRANTED for the reasons set
Second, Plaintiff moved to exclude the admission of Bruce Goodman’s declaration. The
Government’s response moots this issue because the Government says Goodman will testify
live at trial, so the declaration will not be used. Accordingly, the Plaintiff’s second motion in
limine is DENIED as moot.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Michael J. Reagan
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?