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Walls v. Mohammad

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 28, 2014

Donald Benjamin Walls, II, File Plaintiff,
v.
Jamiel Mohammad, individually, and in his official capacity as a City of Minneapolis Police Officer, Deitan Dubuc, individually, and in his official capacity as a City of Minneapolis Police Officer, and the City of Minneapolis, Defendants.

ORDER

PAUL A. MAGNUSON, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the parties' Motions in Limine. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies Plaintiff's Motion and grants certain of Defendants' Motions.

A. Plaintiff's Motion

Plaintiff moves to exclude police reports, booking documents, and jail records relating to his arrest on the grounds that they are hearsay, minimally relevant, and highly prejudicial. Defendants respond that they will not seek to introduce booking or jail documents, therefore, those aspects of the motion are moot. Only the police reports remain in dispute.

Plaintiff contends that the police reports should be excluded because they contain hearsay and are inherently untrustworthy given the adversarial nature of Plaintiff's interactions with Officer Mohammad (the author of the police report), and because Officer Mohammad is available to testify at trial. The Court disagrees. A police report is a business record and therefore admissible under Fed.R.Evid. 803(6). The reports are also likely admissible as public records under Rule 803(8). Under these rules, the reports are admissible regardless of whether the declarant is available as a witness.

The Court acknowledges that the initial report's recitation of the hotel manager's statement to police would constitute hearsay, and therefore be inadmissible, if used to establish the truth of the matter asserted. Fed. R.Evid. 801(c). The Court has reviewed the police report, however, and it does not it does not appear that the witness statement will be used for that purpose. Rather, the hotel manager's statement is being offered by Defendants to establish that certain statements were made and their effect on the listener. Similarly, to the extent that any of Plaintiff's own statements in the report are being offered for their truth, such statements would likely also be admissible in this case as admissions by a party opponent. See Fed.R.Evid. 801(d)(2). The Court denies Plaintiff's Motion without prejudice to specific objections at trial.

B. Defendants' Motions

1. William T. Gault

Defendants move to exclude the testimony of Plaintiff's expert witness, William T. Gault, Ph.D., because he opines as to the ultimate issue of law, endorses Plaintiff's version of the facts, and relies on the erroneous assumption that the incident occurred in the public domain.[1]

Federal Rule of Evidence 702 governs the admissibility of expert testimony and provides that a witness "who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise" if:

(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue;

(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;

(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and

(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to ...


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