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United States v. Thomas

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

January 9, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
SEVON EDWIN THOMAS, Defendant.

          ENTRY ON THE PARTIES' PENDING MOTIONS AND DEFENDANT'S OBJECTIONS TO THE GOVERNMENT'S EXHIBIT LIST

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on two Motions in Limine filed by the United States of America (the “Government”) (Filing No. 81; Filing No. 82) and a Reverse 404(b) Notice of United States Witnesses Mr. and Mrs. Woosley and Objection to the United States Bringing in any Prior Bad Acts and Especially Uncharged Heroin filed by Defendant Sevon Thomas (“Thomas”) (Filing No. 83; Filing No. 84). Neither party filed response briefs to the pending motions. Also, before the Court is Thomas' Objections to Government's Exhibit List (Filing No. 67). For the reasons stated below the Government's Motions in Limine are granted in part and denied in part, Thomas' Motion regarding 404(b) evidence is granted, and Thomas' Objections are sustained or taken under advisement.

         I. DISCUSSION

         Thomas is charged with Count 1: Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and Count 2: Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. The jury trial in this matter is scheduled to begin on Monday, January 14, 2019.

         A. Government's First Motion in Limine

         The Court excludes evidence on a motion in limine only if the evidence clearly is not admissible for any purpose. See Hawthorne Partners v. AT&T Technologies, Inc., 831 F.Supp. 1398, 1400 (N.D. Ill. 1993). Unless evidence meets this exacting standard, evidentiary rulings must be deferred until trial, so questions of foundation, relevancy, and prejudice may be resolved in context. Id. at 1400-01. Moreover, denial of a motion in limine does not necessarily mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion is admissible; rather, it only means that, at the pretrial stage, the court is unable to determine whether the evidence should be excluded. Id. at 1401.

         The Government intends to offer the following evidence at trial. On July 20, 2017, law enforcement conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle occupied by Lyndal Woosley (“Mr. Woosley”) and Lauren Woosley (“Mrs. Woosley”). Crystal methamphetamine was in the vehicle. Both Mr. and Mrs. Woosley admitted to being involved in distributing methamphetamine in Southern Indiana and admitted to having three drug suppliers for multiple ounces of methamphetamine. They identified Thomas as one of those sources.

         The Government intends to call Mr. and Mrs. Woosley as witnesses in its case in chief. Thomas' counsel represented at the final pretrial conference that Mr. Woosley sold a gun to Thomas, and he would elicit testimony about this fact during the testimony of Thomas' fiancé. In its first Motion in Limine (Filing No. 81), the Government asks the Court to order Thomas not to make any statement about the alleged misconduct of Mr. Woosley that is not in evidence unless Thomas first proffers evidence at a sidebar showing a good faith basis that the conduct occurred and that the alleged misconduct involves Mr. Woosley's truthfulness.

         Federal Rule of Evidence 608(b) states:

Except for a criminal conviction under Rule 609, extrinsic evidence is not admissible to prove specific instances of a witness's conduct in order to attack or support the witness's character for truthfulness. But the court may, on cross-examination, allow them to be inquired into if they are probative of the character for truthfulness or untruthfulness of:
(1) the witness; or
(2) another witness whose character the witness being cross-examined has testified about.
The Government argues,
Any testimony regarding this is “extrinsic” character evidence and is inadmissible. The issue is whether the “specific instance” cast doubt on the witness' reliability to tell the truth. See United States v. Abair, 746 F.3d 260, 263 (7th Cir. 2014). Obviously, the alleged selling of a firearm has nothing to do with truthfulness. It ...

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