United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
Jerome C. Newkirk, Sr., Plaintiff,
James B. Enzor, individually and as an officer of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, and the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, Defendants. Catherine B. Newkirk, Plaintiff,
James B. Enzor, individually and as an officer of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, and the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, Defendants.
ORDER AND OPINION
Richard Mark Gergel United States District Court Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendant James Enzor's
motion in limine to exclude evidence (Dkt. No. 121),
Plaintiffs' motion in limine to strike undisclosed
witnesses (Dkt. No. 123), Plaintiffs' motion in limine to
exclude expert testimony (Dkt. No. 124), Defendant South
Carolina Department of Public Safety's
("SCDPS") motion in limine to exclude evidence
(Dkt. No. 125), and Plaintiffs' motion to strike
SCDPS's motion in limine to exclude evidence (Dkt. No.
137). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in
part and denies in part Mr. Enzor's motion in limine
(Dkt. No. 121), grants Plaintiffs motion in limine (Dkt No.
123), grants in part and denies in part Plaintiffs'
motion to exclude expert testimony (Dkt. No. 124), denies
SCDPS's motion in limine to exclude evidence (Dkt. No.
125), and denies as moot Plaintiffs' motion to strike
SCDPS's motion in limine (Dkt. No. 137).
lawsuit arises from a traffic stop on Interstate 95
("1-95") and an arrest following the stop. (Dkt.
No. 1.) On October 14, 2012, Mr. Enzor, then a Lance Corporal
with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, stopped a car driven
by Plaintiff Catherine Newkirk for speeding in Florence
County, South Carolina. Her husband, Plaintiff Jerome Newkirk,
was a passenger. Mr. Enzor told Mrs. Newkirk (the driver)
that she had been traveling at 77 miles per hour in a
construction work zone where the posted speed limit was 55
miles per hour. After reviewing Mrs. Newkirk's
registration and proof of insurance, Mr. Enzor decided to
issue a citation for 64 in a 55. Mrs. Newkirk, however,
insisted that she had not been speeding, stating, "I
think there is a bit of discrimination going on here."
Mr. Enzor then ordered her to exit the car and she did so,
going to the rear of the car with Mr. Enzor.
Enzor and Mrs. Newkirk then engaged in a somewhat inaudible
discussion, during which Mr. Enzor pointed at Mrs. Newkirk
and said, "Let me tell you something right now, "
and Mrs. Newkirk responded, "No." Mr. Enzor then
arrested Mrs. Newkirk. He took her wrist and attempted to
pull her arms toward him, then stepped behind her and pressed
her against the car, twisting her hands and wrists to pull
her hands behind her back. He instructed Mrs. Newkirk to
"quit resisting arrest, " and she responded,
"I'm not resisting arrest." He then called for
to handcuff Mrs. Newkirk (a woman of fifty years of age), Mr.
Enzor repeatedly yelled at Mrs. Newkirk, "Get in the
car, " referring to his patrol car. Mrs. Newkirk
protested, "You're hurting me, " and called out
to her husband. Mr. Newkirk exited the car and walked to Mr.
Enzor, allegedly telling him that his actions were
unnecessary (his statements are inaudible). Still struggling
to handcuff Mrs. Newkirk, Mr. Enzor pointed at Mr. Newkirk,
and instructed him to "get in the car, sir, get in the
car." Mr. Newkirk walked back to the car, and once
inside, left the door slightly ajar, keeping his head turned
toward Mr. Enzor and Mrs. Newkirk. While Mr. Enzor continued
to struggle with Mrs. Newkirk, Mr. Newkirk shouted
"ain't no reason for that" and other inaudible
statements to Mr. Enzor. Mr. Enzor then told Mr. Newkirk that
he too was under arrest. Once Mrs. Newkirk was in the custody
of an officer who responded to Mr. Enzor's request for
backup, Mr. Enzor arrested Mr. Newkirk.
Newkirks each filed suit against Mr. Enzor and SCDPS. Mr.
Newkirk alleged (1) false arrest in violation of his
constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against
Mr. Enzor; (2) negligence, gross negligence, or recklessness
against SCDPS; (3) outrage against SCDPS; (4) malicious
prosecution against SCDPS; (5) false imprisonment against
SCDPS; and (6) negligent supervision against SCDPS. Mrs.
Newkirk alleged (1) false arrest and excessive force in
violation of her constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, against Mr. Enzor; (2) assault against SCDPS; (3)
battery against SCDPS; (4) negligence, gross negligence, or
recklessness against SCDPS; (5) outrage against SCDPS; (6)
malicious prosecution against SCDPS; (7) false imprisonment
against SCDPS; and (8) negligent supervision against SCDPS.
(Dkt.No. l-l;(Dkt.No. 1-1 in 2:13-1635-RMG).) Claims for
outrage and negligent supervision were abandoned, and the
Court granted summary judgment for Defendants on Mrs.
Newkirk's claims for false arrest, malicious prosecution,
and false imprisonment. (Dkt No. 90; (Dkt. No. 89 in
the Court ruled on Defendants' motions for summary
judgment, Mr. Enzor filed an interlocutory appeal of the
Court's denial of his claim of qualified immunity, which
took over 18 months to resolve. (Dkt. Nos. 93 (notice of
appeal July 16, 2015), 106 (mandate January 27, 2017).) When
the Fourth Circuit finally issued its mandate affirming the
denial of qualified immunity, this Court promptly scheduled
the case for trial. (Dkt. No, 113 (February 13, 2017 notice
of jury trial to begin March 13, 2017).) Both parties have
now filed numerous motions in limine seeking to exclude
not specifically provided for in the Federal Rules of
Evidence, motions in limine "ha[ve] evolved under the
federal courts' inherent authority to manage
trials." United States v. Verges, Crim. No. 1;
13-222, 2014 WL 559573, at *2 (E.D. Va. Feb. 12, 2014).
"The purpose of a motion in limine is to allow a court
to rule on evidentiary issues in advance of trial in order to
avoid delay, ensure an even-handed and expeditious trial, and
focus the issues the jury will consider." Id.
"Questions of trial management are quintessential'
the province of the district courts." United States
v. Smith, 452 F.3d 323, 332 (4th Cir. 2006); see
also United States v. McBride, 676 F.3d 385, 403 (4th
Cir. 2012) ("[Assessing [whether evidence is] relevan[t]
is at the heart of the district court's trial management
function."). A district court therefore has "broad
discretion" in deciding a motion in limine. Kauffman
v. Park Place Hosp. Grp., 468 F.App'x 220, 222 (4th
Cir. 2012). Nonetheless, a motion in limine "should be
granted only when the evidence is clearly inadmissible on all
potential grounds." Verges, 2014 WL 559573, at
Enzor's motion to exclude facts and circumstances
surrounding the termination of his employment with SCDPS
investigated the arrest of the Newkirks, and concluded that
Mr. Enzor arrested Mrs. Newkirk lawfully, that he arrested
Mr. Newkirk unlawfully, and that he was discourteous and
behaved in a manner unbecoming an officer. (Dkt. No. 65-2 at
27.) As a result, Mr. Enzor was demoted and suspended for ten
days. (Dkt. No. 134 at 2.) Mr. Enzor's demotion was
withdrawn after he filed an administrative grievance.
(Id. at 3.) Thereafter, Mr. Enzor was fired for
making a derogatory comment about a superior officer.
(Id.) In response to his termination, Mr. Enzor has
sued SCDPS, alleging he was fired in racial retaliation for
the incident with the Newkirks and not because of a later
derogatory comment about a superior officer. (Id.
3-4.) Mr. Enzor moves to exclude "[t]he facts and
circumstances surrounding the separation of employment
between [himself] and [SCDPS]." (Dkt. No. 114 at 1.)
controlling standard for an excessive force claim under the
Fourth Amendment is whether the force employed was
objectively reasonable. See Graham v. Connor, 490
U.S. 386, 396 (1989). The Court agrees that SCDPS's
personnel management decisions are not relevant to this case,
because SCDPS's standards of courtesy and its standards
for trooper discipline are not the legal standards applicable
to Plaintiffs' claims. See 3 Martin A. Schwartz,
Section 1983 Litigation - Federal Evidence § 1, 04[C]
 (5th ed. 2013) ("[T]he circuit courts have
consistently rejected attempts by plaintiffs to demonstrate
that the defendant officer failed to follow police department
guidelines or proper procedure."). Thus, evidence about
how SCDPS disciplined Mr. Enzor in response to the findings
of its investigation of the arrest of the Newkirks cannot
make any fact material to Plaintiffs' claims more or less
probable, nor will evidence about a ...