United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING AND DEFERRING
UNTIL TRIAL DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS IN LIMINE
N. PARRISH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
the court are four motions in limine, (ECF Nos. 87, 88, 89,
and 90), filed by defendants Christopher McHugh and Daniel
Bartlett on November 8, 2018. Plaintiffs responded to three
of those motions on November 15, 2018. (ECF Nos. 101, 102,
and 104). The court heard oral argument on the motions at the
final pretrial conference on November 30, 2018.
purpose of a motion in limine is to resolve disputes about
the admissibility of evidence before trial. But this purpose
cannot be fulfilled when a motion in limine is insufficient
to frame the specific evidence that its movant seeks to
exclude. Abstract discussions regarding evidentiary
principles, without any apparent connection to potential
evidence in the case, are singularly unhelpful. Additionally,
a motion in limine is not a procedure by which parties can
secure judicial reinforcement of the ever-applicable Federal
Rules of Evidence. It is also not an opportunity for counsel
to conceive of every possible evidentiary contingency at
trial-no matter how outlandish-and obtain prophylactic
rulings to prevent them.
avoid motions in limine that display these problems, the
court's trial order requires that, "[b]efore filing
. . . any motion in limine, the parties must meet and confer
to attempt to resolve the dispute." (ECF No. 75). The
defendants' motions in limine each represent that
defendants "met and conferred regarding this
Motion with Plaintiffs' counsel via email[,
]" but, as discussed below, these motions contain
defects that seem to indicate that there was no real attempt
to resolve these evidentiary disputes before submitting them
for judicial resolution.
Defendants' Motion to Exclude the Court's Memorandum
Decisions and Orders
court is simply mystified about why this particular issue
requires judicial intervention. At the very broadest level,
it is baffling that either party might consider the
court's resolution of the parties' dispositive
motions in this case to amount to evidence. If so, how do
they expect that it might be introduced? Can the court
anticipate appearing on the parties' witness list for the
purpose of establishing a foundation for its rulings? Or did
the parties expect that they might simply reproduce excerpts
from those orders in their opening statements, hoping to sway
the jury with a judicial imprimatur on their version of
would appear to be two possible scenarios that led to this
highly unnecessary motion: (1) concerned with unfavorable
language resulting from the procedural posture of their
motion for summary judgment, the defendants concluded that it
would be wise to obtain a prophylactic ruling that the order
is inadmissible; (2) the plaintiffs gave some indication that
they did, in fact, intend to use this court's summary
judgment decision as evidence, and the defendants' motion
merely responds. The former, as explained above, would
represent an improper use of the motion in limine procedure.
If it were the latter, the defendants' motion utterly
fails to explain why they have reason to believe that the
plaintiffs intend to use the court's prior orders as
result, the court has no concrete dispute to resolve. And in
any event, plaintiffs did not respond to this motion in
limine, whether because they had no intent to use the
court's orders as evidence in the first instance, or
because they have since wisely abandoned that effort. The
court declines to issue a ruling on a question of law with an
answer that seems so obvious as to preclude its necessity.
Defendants' first motion in limine is therefore denied.
Defendants' Motion to Exclude Plaintiff Daniel
McGuire's Medical Records
next motion in limine seeks the exclusion of plaintiffs'
exhibit 21, which consists of pictures of two documents given
to Daniel McGuire when he sought medical treatment for
hearing loss the same day of the search. Mr. McGuire
alleges that the SWAT team's use of an explosive charge
to breach the basement resulted in hearing loss.
seek the exclusion of "[a]ny reference to, testimony on,
or argument about Plaintiffs' Proposed Trial Exhibit 21 .
. . because Plaintiffs have not designated an expert witness
to interpret these medical records."
Rule 701, a lay witness may not offer opinion testimony
"based on scientific, technical, or other specialized
knowledge." Fed.R.Evid. 701. Plaintiffs appear to
concede that an expert would be required to discuss the
contents of the medical records, but represent that they
intend to use exhibit 21 only to prove that Mr. McGuire
sought medical treatment for hearing loss the day of the
court finds that this is a permissible purpose. Mr. McGuire
may introduce exhibit 21 for the limited purpose of proving
that he sought medical treatment for hearing loss immediately
after the search. Defendants may request a limiting
instruction to this effect. Mr. McGuire may not, however,
testify as to his diagnosis (if any) or attempt to explain
the highly complex data reproduced in those documents.
Additionally, as discussed at the final pretrial conference,
plaintiffs' exhibit 21 must be redacted so as ...