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Patterson v. City of Wichita

United States District Court, D. Kansas

August 4, 2014

MARY PATTERSON and TRAVIS PATTERSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF WICHITA, KANSAS, and J. HENRY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MONTI L. BELOT, District Judge.

This case comes before the court on both plaintiffs' and defendants' motions in limine. (Docs. 85, 86). The motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for decision. (Docs. 87, 93, 94, 99).

All parties seek to prohibit the admission of certain evidence at trial. To the extent it can with the information before it, the court will briefly rule on each motion. The court cautions the parties, however, that nothing in this order will preclude the admissibility of the excluded evidence if it otherwise becomes relevant at trial. See Turley v. State Farm Mut. Ins. Co. , 944 F.2d 669, 673 (10th Cir. 1991) ("The better practice would seem to be that evidence of this nature... should await development of the trial itself."). By the same taken, nothing said herein should be constituted as a final ruling admitting evidence to which a valid objection is made at trial.

Analysis

The facts of this case are set forth in the Memorandum and Order issued by Judge Julie Robinson on June 5, 2014. (Doc. 81). Plaintiffs allege that defendant J. Henry, a police officer employed by defendant City of Wichita, used excessive force during their arrests on June 6, 2010. Additionally, plaintiff Mary Patterson brings a claim of false arrest against defendants.

I. Plaintiffs' Motion in Limine

A. Witnesses' Criminal History

Plaintiffs seek to exclude the criminal history of Mary Patterson, Antron Cox and Nazeeh Shahid.

Mary Patterson

Plaintiffs seek to exclude Mary's prior arrest for misuse of food stamps which occurred in 2000. Defendants contend that Mary has been arrested several times and the arrests are relevant to her claim for emotional damages. Neither party, however, has provided the court with any specific information regarding Mary's prior arrest(s) and/or conviction(s).[1] In order for the court to properly rule on a motion in limine concerning a prior arrest or conviction, the court must be provided with the specific information surrounding the arrest and/or conviction. The "evidence" of Mary's arrests may be in medical records but that does not mean defendants do not have to produce them if they want the evidence admitted at trial. Nor is the court obligated to "request" the parties to produce the records. (Doc. 93, n. 1).

Therefore, plaintiffs' motion to exclude Mary's criminal record is granted.

Antron Cox

Plaintiffs seek to exclude evidence that Cox, who is Mary's son and an individual on the scene at the time of plaintiffs' arrests, had an outstanding arrest warrant for charges of rape and aggravated battery on June 6, 2010. Plaintiffs contend that this evidence would prejudice the jury.

On June 6, 2010, Henry was dispatched to Mary's house because Cox and Travis Patterson were fighting. Henry testified in his deposition that he had knowledge of Cox's outstanding warrant and charges at the time of the arrests because he had attempted to arrest Cox at Mary's address three weeks earlier. The jury in this case will be required to determine whether Henry's actions during the arrest were not "objectively reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting him." Graham v. Connor , 490 U.S. 386, 397, 109 S.Ct. 1865 (1989); Cruz v. City of Laramie , 239 F.3d 1183, 1188 (10th Cir. 2001). This standard requires the consideration of "the alleged crime's severity, the degree of potential threat that the suspect poses to an officer's safety and to others' safety, and the suspect's efforts to resist or evade arrest." Olsen v. Layton Hills Mall , 312 F.3d 1304, 1314 (10th Cir. 2002). In light of these factors, Henry's knowledge of Cox's criminal history is relevant to Henry's actions on June 6, 2010.

Plaintiffs' motion to exclude Cox's outstanding warrant and charges is overruled. The court will consider instructing the jury on limited consideration of the evidence. Counsel may submit proposed instructions.

Nazeeh Shahid

Shahid will testify concerning the events of June 6, 2010. In August 2011, Shahid was arrested for allegedly punching his girlfriend. The case was dismissed. Defendants assert that this arrest and domestic battery charge ...


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