The following blog entry is written from a defendant’s position as trial approaches. Reviewing this kind of briefing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in a personal injury case present such issues to the court.
(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this sexual harassment case and its proceedings.)
A. Legal Standards Governing Motions In Limine.
A party may bring a motion in limine to exclude evidence on the same grounds as any evidentiary objection that may be made at trial. A court may make an in limine order that counsel and witnesses may not mention objectionable matters before the jury, to avoid creating an improper inference in the jurors’ minds that a subsequent instruction to disregard those matters may not cure. A trial court has inherent power to entertain and grant a motion in limine. 3 Witkin, California Evidence (4th ed.), § 368.369.
B. Inquiry Into And Admission Of Evidence Of Ms. Black’s Prior Sexual Conduct With Individuals Other Than The Harasser Is Irrelevant and Inadmissible.
Under California Evidence Code section 350, no evidence is admissible except relevant evidence. Cal. Evid. Code § 350. Relevant evidence is defined as any evidence having any tendency in reason to prove or disprove any disputed fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action. Cal. Evid. Code § 210. Defendants anticipate that Plaintiff will attempt to elicit testimony and submit evidence regarding Ms. Black’s prior sexual history and/or conduct with others, including prior complaints by Ms. Black of sexual harassment against individuals other than Plaintiff, in an attempt to show that the conduct complained of by Ms. Black was not unwelcome or offensive and to improperly impugn Ms. Black’s character. Such evidence is not relevant to establishing whether Defendant XYZ discriminated against Plaintiff.
Its admission also is prohibited by law. See Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 2017.220 (prohibiting discovery of claimant’s prior sexual conduct during discovery absent a proper showing of good cause); Cal. Evid Code § 1106 (prohibiting admission of evidence at trial of claimant’s prior sexual conduct with anyone other than the harasser); Rieger v. Arnold, 104 Cal. App. 4th 451 (2002). (See Part 3 of 5.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.