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Humbert v. O'Malley

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

April 6, 2015

MARTIN O'MALLEY, et al., Defendants.


WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

Marlow Humbert sued several police officers and others for constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 and state law claims. ECF No. 1. Trial is scheduled to begin on April 13, 2015 on claims against Christopher Jones, Dominick Griffin, and Caprice Smith (the "police defendants"). ECF No. 153.[1] Pending are the police defendants' motions in limine. ECF Nos. 165, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170. For the following reasons, the Court will deny the police defendants' motion to preclude argument that police defendants had a duty to further investigate, grant in part the police defendants' motion to preclude medical references to Humbert's insurance status, and defer ruling on the remaining motions until trial.

I. Background

A. Facts[2]

This suit arises from the April 29, 2008 rape of a woman[3] at her home in Baltimore's Charles Village neighborhood. ECF No. 154 at 3. After walking home from the store, the Victim had observed a man walking toward her. See id. She walked past the man, opened her front door, turned around, and discovered that he had followed her into her apartment. See id. The man put on a white face mask and gloves and placed a black handgun against her head. See id. He demanded money, but she told him she had none. See id. The man then pushed her onto a nearby couch and raped her. See id. He told her that he had a condom on, but she did not remember him stopping to put on the condom. See id.; ECF No. 138 at 3.

Sergeant Jones and Detective Griffin interviewed the Victim soon afterward. ECF No. 154 at 4. The Victim described her assailant as a black man in his early to mid-30s, five-foot-seven to five-foot-nine inches tall, and wearing a blue T-shirt with a pink logo and tennis shoes. ECF No. 138 at 3. On May 1, 2008, Detective Griffin and Sergeant Jones took the Victim to meet with Detective Brassell, a sketch artist. ECF No. 154 at 4. Detective Brassell completed a composite sketch that was widely distributed. See id.

On May 2, 2008, Detective Smith met with the Victim and showed her 45 photos of registered sex offenders. Id. at 5. After reviewing the photos, the Victim stated that two of the photos resembled her attacker but did not identify either of them as her attacker. Id. On May 8, 2008, Detectives Smith and Griffin showed the Victim an array of photos that included Humbert's photo. Id. According to the police defendants, the Victim saw Humbert's photo, stated "that's him, " and became emotional. Id. However, the Victim declares that she saw Humbert's photo and said that "might" be him. ECF No. 138 at 7.

On May 9, 2008, Detective Smith applied for an arrest warrant for Humbert. ECF No. 138 at 8. On May 10, 2008, Humbert was arrested. ECF No. 154 at 5. On May 14, 2008, pursuant to a search warrant, officers obtained oral swabs of Humbert's DNA. ECF No. 138 at 9. On June 2, 2008, "the crime lab excluded [Humbert] as the DNA contributor to the sample taken from [the Victim]." Id. at 10. The Assistant State's Attorney, Joakim Tan, learned of the results "at most three weeks after it was received." ECF No. 154 at 5.

On July 30, 2009, Tan dismissed the charges, and Humbert was released. Id. at 14.

B. Procedural History

On February 16, 2015, the police defendants moved in limine to preclude (1) argument that any police Defendant had a duty to further investigate the Victim's rape, (2) any reference to the photo arrays and argument that the photo arrays were unnecessarily suggestive, (3) mention of Jones's or Griffin's alleged unprofessional comments to the Victim and her friend, (4) medical references, (5) argument that the facts in the warrant application, if true, are insufficient to establish probable cause, and (6) reference to or evidence of DNA testing that excludes Humbert as a contributor of semen from the Victim. ECF Nos. 165, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170. On March 13, 2015, Humbert opposed the motions. ECF No. 173. On March 23, 2015, the police defendants replied. ECF No. 176.

II. Analysis

The police defendants seek preclusion on grounds of irrelevance, undue prejudice, and failure to authenticate. Humbert generally opposes the motions on the basis that relevance and prejudice cannot be determined until trial. ECF No. 173 at 3.

Evidence is relevant if it has any tendency to make the existence of any fact of consequence more or less probable than it would be without the evidence. Fed R. Evid. 401. Evidence that is not relevant is generally not admissible. Fed R. Evid. 402. Relevant evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of unfair prejudice. Fed R. Evid. 403. When conducting Rule 403 balancing, courts should "give the evidence its maximum reasonable probative force and its minimum reasonable prejudicial value." E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 564 F.Appx. 710, 715 ...

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