United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is a motion in limine filed by Dorian
Christian Carvalho pursuant to Fed.R.Evid. 403 and 609, (Doc.
189), and a motion in limine filed by defendant
Warden Bryan Bledsoe pursuant to Fed.R.Evid. 402 and 403,
purpose of a motion in limine is to allow the trial
court to rule in advance of trial on the admissibility and
relevance of certain forecasted evidence.” United
States v. Tartaglione, 228 F.Supp.3d 402, 406 (E.D.Pa.
2017). On a motion in limine, evidence should only
be excluded “when the evidence is clearly inadmissible
on all potential grounds.” Id.Evidentiary
rulings on motions in limine are subject to the
trial judge's discretion and are therefore reviewed for
an abuse of discretion. Abrams v. Lightolier, Inc.,
50 F.3d 1204, 1213 (3d Cir. 1995); Bernardsville Bd. of
Educ. v. J.H., 42 F.3d 149, 161 (3d Cir. 1994).
“The Court is vested with broad inherent authority to
manage its cases, which carries with it the discretion and
authority to rule on motions in limine prior to
trial.” Ridolfi v. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins.
Co., 2017 WL 3198006, *2 (M.D.Pa. July 27, 2017).
Further, “[c]ourts may exercise this discretion in
order to ensure that juries are not exposed to unfairly
prejudicial, confusing or irrelevant evidence.”
Id. (citation omitted).
trial court considering a motion in limine may
reserve judgment until trial in order to place the motion in
the appropriate factual context.” United States v.
Tartaglione, 228 F.Supp.3d 402, 406 (E.D.Pa. 2017)
(citation omitted). “Further, a trial court's
ruling on a motion in limine is ‘subject to
change when the case unfolds, particularly if actual
testimony differs from what was contained in the movant's
proffer.'” Id. (citing Luce v. United
States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 (1984)).
to Fed.R.Evid. 403, the court may exclude relevant evidence
“if its probative value is substantially outweighed by
the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or
misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay,
waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative
evidence.” The Third Circuit has cautioned that the
exclusion of potentially relevant evidence pursuant to Rule
403 is an “extreme measure” at the pre-trial
stage. Hines v. Consol. Rail Corp., 926 F.2d 262,
274 (3d Cir. 1991). Evidence should rarely be excluded in
limine pursuant to Rule 403 because “[a] court
cannot fairly ascertain the potential relevance of evidence
for Rule 403 purposes until it has a full record relevant to
the putatively objectionable evidence.” In re Paoli
R.R. Yard PCB Litig., 916 F.2d 829, 859 (3d Cir. 1999).
Rule 404, character evidence is generally not admissible to
prove conduct. In particular, “evidence of other
crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the
character of a person in order to show action in conformity
therewith.” Fed.R.Evid. 404(b). Other crimes, wrongs or
acts are admissible, however, to prove motive, opportunity,
intent, preparation, and plan. Id.
under Rule 609 governs the admissibility of a witness's
prior convictions for impeachment purposes. Pursuant to Rule
609(a), for purposes of attacking the character for
truthfulness of a witness, evidence that the witness has been
convicted of a felony “shall be admitted, subject to
Rule 403 . . . if the court determines that the probative
value of admitting this evidence outweighs its prejudicial
effect to the accused.” Fed.R.Evid. 609(a)(1). In
analyzing conviction evidence, the court must engage in a
“genuine balancing” of probative value and
prejudicial effect. Tabron v. Grace, 898 F.Supp.
293, 297 (M.D.Pa. 1995). Important considerations include
“the nature of the convictions, the time that has
elapsed since conviction, the importance of credibility to
the underlying claim, and the potential for prejudice from
admitting the convictions.” Id. at 295.
conviction over ten years old (measured from the date of
conviction or release from confinement for the conviction,
whichever is later), is generally not admissible
“unless the court determines, in the interests of
justice, that the probative value of the conviction supported
by specific facts and circumstances substantial outweighs its
prejudicial effect.” Fed.R.Evid. 609(b). Thus,
convictions over ten years old are only to be admitted in
exceptional circumstances and the Rule 403 balancing is
reversed. Whereas under Rule 403 unfair prejudice must
substantially outweigh the evidence's probative value,
for convictions over ten years old, the probative value of
the conviction must substantially outweigh the prejudicial
Carvalho's Motion in Limine
motion in limine, Carvalho asks that the court
exclude any evidence of Carvalho's criminal convictions,
sentence, or misconduct- specifically, his criminal
convictions for felon in possession of a firearm, burglary,
carjacking, robbery, larceny, indecent exposure, credit card
fraud, and check fraud. Carvalho argues that his criminal
history is irrelevant and should be excluded pursuant to
Rules 402 and 403, since it does not pertain to Bledsoe's
actions in restraining him, and because the risk of unfair
prejudice would substantially outweigh any probative value of
Carvalho argues that his criminal convictions are
inadmissible for impeachment purposes under Fed.R.Evid. 609.
As to his firearm conviction, Carvalho argues that the
probative value of the conviction is minimal since the
conviction is over fifteen years old and because his
credibility is not a key factor in the case, since much of
his testimony will be supported by documentary evidence. As
to his other convictions, Carvalho argues that they, too,
should be excluded for impeachment purposes because he
completed his imprisonment for them over ten years ago and
they are not probative of his credibility.
Carvalho acknowledges that his fraud conviction and
potentially his larceny conviction are crimes of crimen
falsi, he asserts that evidence of them should be
excluded because the convictions are over ten years old and
there are no facts or circumstances that would justify
departure from the general presumption against use of
convictions over ten years old. Carvalho's motion does
not make any specific arguments as to ...