United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, J.
Plaintiff John Emmi (“Plaintiff”) brings this
action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for excessive force and
bystander liability against Defendants Michael DeAngelo and
Benjamin King, both of whom are Pennsylvania State Police
Troopers. During trial, Defendants sought to introduce
testimony from Plaintiff's wife, Marianne Emmi
(“Mrs. Emmi”). Mrs. Emmi, though present in
court, invoked her spousal privilege and refused to testify.
For the reasons that follow, the Court upholds Mrs.
Emmi's claim to spousal privilege but rules admissible
certain portions of the deposition Mrs. Emmi previously
provided in this case.
alleges in his complaint that, on July 21, 2014, he was
pulling out of the driveway of his residence at 365C S. Old
Middletown Road in Media, Pennsylvania, when he noticed
Defendants DeAngelo and King approaching his vehicle.
See Compl. ¶¶ 9-10, ECF No. 1. Upon seeing
Defendants DeAngelo and King, he turned off the engine of his
vehicle, stepped out of the vehicle, and placed his hands in
the air. Id. ¶ 10. Defendant DeAngelo then
“suddenly and without any reasonable
justification” grabbed Plaintiff's arm and
“swung him around, forcefully pushed his body up
against the rear of his vehicle, then proceeded to pull the
Plaintiff's arms around his back and placed him in
handcuffs.” Id. ¶ 11. While Plaintiff was
being handcuffed, Defendant King “without any
reasonable justification, repeatedly kneed Plaintiff in his
right leg.” Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff claims
that “he was not resisting arrest and [this] use of
force was unreasonable under the circumstances in violation
of . . . the Fourth Amendment.” Id. ¶ 14.
version of the story includes the following preamble, the
truth of which Plaintiff has not disputed:
On July 21, 2014 at approximately 6pm, Plaintiff and his
wife, Marianne Emmi, got into an argument at their home in
Middletown Township, Delaware County. Mrs. Emmi eventually
called 911. Plaintiff ripped the phone off the wall during
the call. Plaintiff also at some point climbed in a window
and broke a vase. [Defendants DeAngelo and King] were
dispatched to the location. They were informed by dispatch
that it was an active domestic dispute, the call had been
cutoff and the husband drove a pickup truck.
Defs.' Final Pretrial Mem. at 1, ECF No. 22.
trial, Defendants moved to compel Mrs. Emmi's testimony
as a witness against Plaintiff. Alternatively, Defendants
sought to read into the record the deposition that Mrs. Emmi
had previously provided in this case. Plaintiff opposed both
requests. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that
Mrs. Emmi has properly invoked her spousal privilege and
therefore may not be compelled to testify against Plaintiff,
her husband. Relevant portions of her deposition testimony,
however, may be read into the record pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 32 and Federal Rule of Evidence 804.
Rule of Evidence 501 governs the applicability of federal
privileges and also delineates when state law privileges
apply to federal litigation. This rule provides in full as
common law--as interpreted by United States courts in the
light of reason and experience--governs a claim of privilege
unless any of the following provides otherwise:
• the United States Constitution;
• a federal statute; or
• rules prescribed by the Supreme ...