Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Whitaker v. Okafor

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

December 2, 2019

MOHAMMED PEDRO WHITAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
PAULINUS O. OKAFOR, Defendant.

          ORDER (1) DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS IN LIMINE, AND (2) GRANTING IN PART, DENYING IN PART, AND DEFERRING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS IN LIMINE

          ORTRIE D. SMITH, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending are motions in limine filed by both parties. As set forth below, Plaintiff's motions (Doc. #94) are denied in part and granted in part, and Defendant's motions (Doc. #96) are granted in part, denied in part, and deferred in part. The parties are reminded these rulings are interlocutory. Thus, the denial of a request to bar evidence at this juncture preserves nothing for review, and a party may reassert his objections at trial if he deems it appropriate to do so. Evidence barred by this Order shall not be discussed in the jury's presence (including during opening statements) without leave of the Court. The parties are free to suggest (out of the jury's presence) that something has occurred during the trial justifying a change in the Court's interlocutory ruling.

         I. PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS IN LIMINE

         A. Plaintiff's Prior Felony Convictions

         Plaintiff moves to exclude evidence of his prior felony convictions. While he concedes Rule 609(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Evidence allows felony conviction to be admitted for impeachment, Plaintiff emphasizes admissibility of felony convictions is subject to Rule 403. He contends any probative value his felony convictions may have is substantially outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice. In the alternative, Plaintiff asks that if the evidence of his felony convictions is admitted, the evidence be limited to the conviction and not include the details of the underlying crimes.

         Defendant argues Plaintiff's “relevant conviction[s]” are for “three counts of firing a weapon from a motor vehicle resulting in injury and/or death, ” “ten counts of armed criminal action, ” and “seven counts of shooting from a motor vehicle.” Doc. #101, at 1. Defendant argues these convictions are admissible, and they are “more probative than prejudicial because” they are “the bas[e]s that Plaintiff alleges the element of knowledge on the part of defendant.” Id. Defendant argues Plaintiff must prove Defendant was aware of a substantial risk of an attack. Because Plaintiff contends “Defendant had knowledge of the risk due to his high-profile case and moniker as the ‘Highway Shooter, '” Defendant argues “Plaintiff's prior conviction is directly connected to his allegations in the present case, exclusion of that conviction is improper….” Id.

         It appears the only convictions Defendant purports to offer are those that resulted from the charges against Plaintiff that lead to his incarceration at the Jackson County Detention Center (“JCDC”), where the events giving rise to this lawsuit occurred. Accordingly, the Court limits its decision to those charges and resulting convictions. To the extent Defendant intends to offer evidence of other convictions, he must first raise the issue with the Court outside the jury's presence.

         The Court denies Plaintiff's motion for the following reasons. The convictions are probative. They demonstrate, as Plaintiff alleges in his Third Amended Complaint, Defendant should have known Plaintiff's safety was at risk because of the nature of the charges against him. Doc. #37, at 5, 7-8, 13. If Plaintiff chooses to testify, Defendant is permitted to offer evidence of these convictions for impeachment only. Once admitted, the Court will give a limiting instruction, directing the jury to consider evidence of Plaintiff's crimes only to help the jury decide whether to believe him and how much weight to give his testimony. See 8th Cir. Manual of Model Civil Jury Instructions 2.10 (2019). Evidence of these convictions will not cause unfair prejudice to Plaintiff.

         B. Plaintiff's Disciplinary and Conduct Violations

         Plaintiff moves to exclude evidence of disciplinary or conduct violations during his incarceration. He contends such evidence is not admissible under Rule 404(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which prohibits the use of “evidence of a crime, wrong, or other act…to prove a person's character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character.” Fed.R.Evid. 404(b)(1). Plaintiff argues the evidence is not probative of any material issue, and thus, is not allowed under Rule 404(b)(2), which permits evidence of a crime, wrong, or other act “for another purpose, such as proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan….” Fed.R.Evid. 404(b)(2). Defendant does not oppose Plaintiff's motion unless “Plaintiff's character becomes an essential element of the claim or defense.” Doc. #101, at 2. The Court grants Plaintiff's motion. In the unlikely event Plaintiff's character becomes an essential element of a claim or defense, the Court will address the issue at that time.

         II. DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS IN LIMINE

         A. Conditions of Confinement

         Defendant asks the Court to preclude evidence about the conditions of confinement at JCDC, such as leaving cell doors open for plumbing issues, misplacing keys, mishandling mail, and other allegations against JCDC that are not relevant to Plaintiff's claims. Defendant argues this evidence should be excluded because its admission would confuse the issues and mislead the jur.

         Plaintiff opposes Defendant's motion, arguing his case involves the conditions of confinement at JCDC. Specifically, his “claims center on the policies, procedures, and practices of inmate safety in JCDC, and his allegations directly involve the improper opening of a cell door.” Doc. #100, at 1. Thus, he argues any incident where ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.