May
14

The Stupidest Motion In Limine I Ever Read

Perhaps the Attorney General's office will submit a jury charge requesting that jurors be told that police officers are our friends. In this case, arising under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, the defendants are alleged to have brutalized a young man. The officers, surprise, deny it.Moral: You can the shit out of some hapless little ni@#er when no one is looking, but you just can't call a spade a spade. Corollary: Don't impugn the integrity of a jail house snitch.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
DEMETRICE LEWIS, : CASE NO. 3:08CV-0494 (SRU)
Plaintiff, :
:
v. :
:
BLAKE STINE, ROBERT CRISCUOLO, :
SEAN KRAUSS, MICHAEL SIEGLER, :
MICHAEL DEPALMA, WILLIAM :
DEGOURSEY, THOMAS FLAHERTY, :
and QUINCY FREEMAN, :
Defendants. : May 14, 2010
MOTION IN LIMINE
RE PRECLUSION OF TESTIMONY AND ARGUMENT The defendants respectfully request this court to preclude from trial all testimony and argument regarding such the "Blue Wall of Silence" or the "Code of Silence," other testimony elicited from witnesses, or argument by counsel suggesting the existence of a generalized cultural tendency on the part of these defendants, or other police officers, to lie under oath or withhold evidence for the benefit of their fellow police officers.1 The purpose of such lines of questioning or argument is solely to (1) unfairly inflame the prejudices of the jury by insinuating that the veracity of police officers – and these defendants - is inherently suspect without a good faith factual basis for so doing, in violation of Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 403; and (2) introduce alleged "uncharged
The "Blue Wall of Silence" has been characterized as "the reluctance of members of law enforcement to act upon the misconduct of other members." Similarly, the "Code of Silence" has been defined as "that unwritten, often unspoken, rule that prohibits members of law enforcement from reporting the misconduct of other members." See Hill v. City of New York, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48641 at *6-*7; 73 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (Callaghan) 1137 (E.D.N.Y. 2007) (precluding expert testimony on the "Blue Wall of Silence" or "Code of Silence" among police officers as of limited helpfulness to the trier of fact, and inappropriate where plaintiff has provided little or no support to show that these phenomena are applicable). misconduct" or a speculative insinuation of prior bad acts on the part of the defendants, or police officers in general, into the proceedings in violation of F.R.E. Rule 404. A jury’s verdict must be based upon the evidence developed at the trial. Irvin v. Dowd, 366 U.S. 717, 722, 81 S.Ct. 1639, 6 L.Ed.2d 751 (1961). A jury capable and willing to decide the case solely on the evidence before it is one touchstone of a fair trial. McDonough Power Equipment, Inc. v. Greenwood, 464 U.S. 548, 554, 104 S.Ct. 845, 78 L.Ed.2d 663 (1984). See also, Housden v. United States, 517 F.2d 69, 70 (4th Cir. 1975) (The right to trial by an impartial jury which decides the case on the basis of the evidence submitted at trial is paramount in our system of justice).
Disparaging attacks on witnesses without evidence of misconduct are inappropriate and prejudicial, see Draper v. Airco, Inc., 580 F.2d 91, 96, (3rd Cir. 1978), whether put forth during the direct or cross-examination of witnesses, or during arguments of counsel. See City of Cleveland v. Peter Kiewit & Sons Co., 624 F.2d 749, 756 (6th Cir. 1980). Accordingly, district courts often exclude generalized evidence of a code of silence, but permit plaintiffs to develop the theme that a code of silence existed among the particular officers involved in the events underlying the complaint. See Hillard v. City of Chicago, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39981 at *8 (N.D. Ill. 2010). Even so, such inquiry must be founded upon a good faith evidentiary basis and not simply constitute a "fishing expedition" to be conducted in the presence of the jury.
None of the defendants is so senior a law enforcement official that the existence of a custom or policy condoning silence can be attributed to them, and no such allegation of supervisory liability is made in the complaint. Similarly, the complaint contains no allegations of a conspiracy of any sort, much less one to lie or otherwise mislead the jury as to the true facts of the subject incident to protect a defendant’s fellow officers from liability for wrongdoing. While counsel for the plaintiff may examine the defendants on an individual basis concerning each witness’ alleged motivation to lie, if any, to protect himself from potential liability, counsel should be precluded from making reference to a generalized practice among police officers to do so, and should be required to refrain from mentioning the "Blue Wall of Silence" or the "Code of Silence," or similar phrases or concepts without a good faith evidentiary basis for so doing. If such a basis exists, counsel should be required to inform the court and opposing counsel of his intention to pose questions or argument along these lines so that any objections thereto can be resolved out of the presence of the jury. See Baldwin v. Silva, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87822 at *3 (D.Conn. 2007).
WHEREFORE, the defendants request this court to preclude the plaintiff’s counsel from eliciting testimony regarding, or mentioning during argument, the "Blue Wall of Silence" or the "Code of Silence," or similar phrases or concepts without advance notice and a good faith evidentiary basis for so doing.
3 Case 3:08-cv-00494-SRU Document 81 Filed 05/14/10 Page 3 of 4 4
DEFENDANTS
Blake Stine, Robert Criscuolo, Sean Krauss, Michael Siegler, Michael Depalma, William Degoursey and Thomas Flaherty
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
ATTORNEY GENERAL
Comments (4)
Posted on May 15, 2010 at 7:01 am by Ray Sipsa
I hate to say it, but I probably know some judges ...
I hate to say it, but I probably know some judges who would grant that motion.

That being said, I have never seen a police office give another cop a traffic ticket. But in a form of rough justice, "red light cameras" have been popping up in the Chicago metropolitan area like dandelions on the front lawn. Cops don't like these cameras because the cameras don't know that they are cops.

Posted on May 14, 2010 at 4:59 pm by William Doriss
OK. Thanks, I think I get it?!? Agreed, as far as ...
OK. Thanks, I think I get it?!? Agreed, as far as the above posting goes. I assume this Motion in Limine is written by the Office of AG Richard Bloomintall, a bloomin idiot if ever there was one. (No love lost between me and Bloomy.) Am ready for Busy Bysie. Ha! Anyone but Bloomy. Enough is enough, already?!?

Posted on May 14, 2010 at 4:50 pm by Norm Pattis
Bill
A motion in limine is a motion at the thresh...
Bill

A motion in limine is a motion at the threshold of trial, at the doorstep literally. It alerts the court to an issue that should be decided before trial to avoid manifest injustice to the parties. This one is manifestly dumb.

N

Posted on May 14, 2010 at 4:01 pm by William Doriss
I am having a little bit of trouble here: Motion i...
I am having a little bit of trouble here: Motion in Limine. You must remember that not everyone coming onto your blogsite is a practicing attorney, a retired attorney, or attorney-wannabe.

The term came up at my own criminal trial at GA 23. I had no idea what it was then; I have no idea now. I have only one dictionary handy, a Webster's. It's not in there, for real. Looks like it may have something to do with a 'threshold' of some sort. Why did you post this bloody, incomprehensible, legalistic gibberish and codswaddle? Whose side are you on anyway? Come on, I do not have a lot of time on my hands like you apparently do, in spite of your [heavy] case load.

Just reading your essays exhausts me.

I assume Bloomy is representing the defendant cops in a federal, chapter 1983 lawsuit where they [the cops] are the defendants. But am not entirely sure. Whose side are you on? I know you defended Offcr. Clarence Willoughby in New Haven, and won. Congrats! So I see you as a 'switch-hitter', so to speak. I don't think I could be a switch-hitter if I were an attorney, unless I was desperate. But hey, there's very little I understand about jurisprudence in CT, as I have posted many times.
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About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

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