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Sheehan v. Noble County Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

January 28, 2019

HAROLD BRUCE SHEEHAN, II, Plaintiff,
v.
NOBLE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendants', Tyler Barrientes, Brandon Chordus, Erick Kiern, Chris Moriarity, Ryan Morrison, Elizabeth Roehm, and Richard Williams, Motion in Limine [ECF No. 162], and the Plaintiff's, Harold Bruce Sheehan, II, Motion in Limine [ECF No. 165].

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Evidence 104 mandates that the Court decide any preliminary question regarding the admissibility of evidence. Motions in limine to exclude evidence prior to trial are subject to a rigorous standard of review by the trial court. Courts may bar evidence in limine “only when evidence is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds.” Dartey v. Ford Motor Co., 104 F.Supp.2d 1017, 1020 (N.D. Ind. 2000) (quoting Hawthorne Partners v. AT&T Techs., 831 F.Supp. 1398, 1400 (N.D. Ill. 1993)). If evidence does not meet this standard, “evidentiary rulings should be deferred until trial so that questions of foundation, relevancy, and potential prejudice may be resolved in proper context.” Id. (quoting Hawthorne, 831 F.Supp. at 1400). Often, the “better practice is to deal with questions of admissibility of evidence as they arise, presenting the issues in a specific context, rather than excluding broad categories of evidence prior to trial.” United States v. Phillips, No. 1:12-CR-872, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79916, at *5-6 (N.D. Ill. June 12, 2014) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted).

         In this Order, the Court does not make a final determination as to the admissibility of any evidence. The Court reserves the right to change these rulings during the trial should the Court find that the evidence or arguments at trial justify such change.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Defendants' Motion in Limine

         1. Defendants' Motion in Limine paragraph 1:

         The Defendants request that the Plaintiff should be prohibited from making any “Golden Rule” appeal to the jury, that is, a request that the jurors put themselves in the Plaintiff's shoes and ask themselves what they would have done in a certain situation. GRANTED. (No objection).

         2. Defendants' Motion in Limine paragraph 2:

The Plaintiff and the Defendants' lay witnesses should be barred from making any references to any statements by physicians regarding medical diagnosis or medical causation; GRANTED. (No objection).

         3. Defendants' Motion in Limine paragraph 3:

The Plaintiff should be barred from referencing the Defendants' Motion in Limine or any other ruling; ...

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