Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Linin v. Neff

United States District Court, D. Utah

September 1, 2017

REX LININ, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
TROOPER CHAMBERLIN NEFF, in his individual capacity, Defendant.

          Paul M. Warner, Magistrate Judge.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EXPERT TESTIMONY

          Jill N. Parrish, United States District Judge.

         Currently before the Court is Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude Expert Testimony (ECF No. 41). Having considered the Motion, the related pleadings, and the record, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude Expert Testimony.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 16, 2014, Trooper Chamberlin Neff pulled over Rex Linin when Linin failed to slow down and move into the left-hand lane while passing an emergency vehicle displaying lights. Trooper Neff claims that, while speaking with Linin, he smelled alcohol coming from Linin's truck. At this point, Trooper Neff asked Linin to come to the patrol car.

         While in the patrol car, Trooper Neff checked Linin's driver's license and registration and asked Linin questions. Trooper Neff told Linin that he smelled alcohol and asked Linin to preform field sobriety tests, on which Linin performed poorly. After administering the tests, Trooper Neff asked Linin to blow into a breathalyzer. Linin declined to blow into the device, saying that his ex-wife, a lawyer, had warned him not to blow into a portable breathalyzer. Instead, Linin stated, “I'd rather take a blood test.”

         At this point, Trooper Neff arrested Linin for driving under the influence (“DUI”), handcuffed Linin, and placed him in the patrol car. Following the arrest, Trooper Neff searched Linin's truck and impounded it.

         Linin brought claims against Trooper Neff under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for false arrest and unlawful search and seizure. Linin argues that Trooper Neff did not have reasonable suspicion to expand the scope of the traffic stop to a DUI investigation. To support his claim, Linin intends to call Travis Jones, a formerly certified DWI instructor, as an expert witness to testify concerning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) standards upon which all law enforcement officers are trained. Specifically, Jones intends to testify as to “what the NHTSA instructs officers to look for when considering whether to engage in a DUI investigation and whether Officer Neff's observations warranted expanding the scope of Rex Linin's traffic stop pursuant to common law enforcement standards.”

         Jones, in his Investigation Report, outlines 21 cues to which law enforcement officers should look when determining whether to conduct field sobriety tests. Jones notes that Trooper Neff claims to have observed only one of the 21 cues-the odor of alcohol-before he asked Linin to perform field sobriety tests. Jones also opines (1) that the average time between initial contact and a DWI arrest is 13 minutes and (2) that the average time between initial contact and field sobriety tests is 2 minutes and 11 seconds-shorter than the 8 minutes and 6 seconds that it took for Trooper Neff to ask Linin to perform various field sobriety tests. Finally, Jones offers the following conclusions: (1) “Trooper Neff unreasonably detained Mr. Linin longer than was necessary to develop reasonable suspicion of DWI”; (2) “Mr. Linin did not delay the investigation, and the time that Trooper Neff had Mr. Linin was unreasonable”; and (3) “Trooper Neff continued with the DWI investigation improperly” because he had “observed only one observation of the twenty-one cues that is listed for personal contact observations prior to requesting [standardized field sobriety tests].”

         II. DISCUSSION

         Trooper Neff seeks to exclude Jones' testimony on the grounds that Jones intends to testify as to the reasonableness of Trooper Neff's conduct-a legal conclusion on an ultimate issue of the case. Linin responds by claiming that Jones intends to “opine on whether [Trooper] Neff complied with law enforcement standards, a question separate and apart from the ultimate legal conclusion of whether [Trooper] Neff violated Linin's constitutional rights.” For the reasons set forth below, the Court holds that Jones is prohibited from offering expert testimony on the subject matter in his Investigation Report.

         Under Federal Rule of Evidence 401, evidence is relevant if it (1) “has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence” and (2) “the fact is of consequence in determining the action.” Rule 402 states that irrelevant evidence is inadmissible.

         Under Rule 702, an expert may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if: (1) “the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue”; (2) “the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data”; (3) “the testimony is the product of reliable principles and method”; and (4) “the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.” As a general rule, an expert “may not state his or her opinion as to legal standards nor may he or she state legal conclusions drawn by applying the law to the facts.” Christiansen v. City of Tulsa, 332 F.3d 1270, 1283 (10th Cir. 1988). The question of whether an officer had reasonable suspicion to expand the scope of a traffic stop to a DUI investigation is a question of law. See United States v. Trestyn, 646 F.3d 732, 741 (10th Cir. 2011).

         In the context of whether an officer acted reasonably under the Fourth Amendment, the Tenth Circuit has recognized that expert testimony on law enforcement standards “is both irrelevant and confusing” because “the violation of such standards is not ipso facto a Fourth Amendment violation.” Marquez v. City of Albuquerque, 399 F.3d 1216, 1222 (10th Cir. 2005) (holding that district court did not abuse its discretion in preventing ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.