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United States v. Casarez

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 6, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RAUL CASAREZ, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Kent J. Dawson, United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court is Defendant's Amended Motion in Limine (#64). Plaintiff filed a response (#68) to which Defendant replied (#69).

         I. Background

         On April 12, 2017, the Government charged Defendant in the present action with carjacking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2119 and use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A).

         On January 1, 2015, Defendant, Defendant's companion Jessica, and an unknown assailant allegedly planned to rob H.K. (“the victim”) of any money and drugs he possessed. That night, the three assailants stole several items from the victim, including flat screen televisions and a truck. The Government alleges Defendant possessed a firearm during this encounter. On April 7, 2016, Henderson detectives presented to the victim a six-pack photographic line-up asking him to identify one of the assailants. The line-up included photographs of Defendant and five other males. The victim identified Defendant as the assailant who possessed the firearm.

         In a separate action on February 25, 2015, the Government charged Raul Casarez (“Defendant”) with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C § 992(g), 924(a)(2), and 924(e)(1). This charge resulted from an officer stopping Defendant during the officer's investigation of a non-criminal matter. While attempting to flee from the officer, a firearm fell from Defendant's shirt onto the ground. The officer arrested Defendant twenty minutes later. Defendant moved to suppress the firearm that fell from his shirt, contending that it was illegally obtained because the officer improperly stopped him. This Court found the officer lacked reasonable suspicion and thus violated the Fourth Amendment. Consequently, this Court ordered the firearm suppressed.

         Defendant moves to preclude the Government from referencing his history of violence, drug use, and firearm possession, as well as any reference to the suppressed firearm in the previous case. Defendant also contends the Government may not use his prior convictions for impeachment purposes, and that he may impeach Jessica and the victim on their prior convictions. In addition, Defendant moves to preclude the photographic line-up presented to the victim alleging it was impermissibly suggestive.

         II. Legal Standard

         A motion in limine is “any motion, whether made before or during trial, to exclude anticipated prejudicial evidence before the evidence is actually offered.” Luce v. U.S., 469 U.S. 38, 40 n.2 (1984). Judges have broad discretion when ruling on motions in limine. See U.S. v. Castillo, 615 F.2d 878, 886 (9th Cir. 1980). “[E]videntiary rulings should be deferred until trial so that questions of foundation, relevancy, and potential prejudice may be resolved in proper context.” Hawthorne Partners v. AT & T Tech., Inc., 831 F.Supp. 1398, 1400 (N.D. Ill. 1993). This is because a “court is almost always better situated during the actual trial to assess the value and utility of evidence.” Wilkins v. Kmart Corp., 487 F.Supp.2d 1216, 1219 (D. Kan. 2007).

         III. Analysis

         Defendant anticipates the Government will introduce allegedly impermissible evidence at trial. To prevent such conduct, Defendant moves to preclude the Government's reference to: (1) Defendant's prior convictions; (2) a firearm this Court suppressed in a previous case; (3) the victim's identification of Defendant by means of a photographic line-up; and (4) Defendant's contested personal history of violence, drug abuse, and firearm possession. In addition, Defendant argues this Court should permit him to impeach two of the Government's witnesses based on their prior convictions.

         A. Evidence of Prior Convictions

         Federal Rule of Evidence 609 permits a party to attack a “witness's character for truthfulness by evidence of a criminal conviction.” Fed.R.Evid. 609(a). Defendant invokes Rule 609 to make three assertions: (1) the Government may not use Defendant's prior convictions for impeachment purposes; (2) Defendant may use the victim's prior conviction for impeachment purposes; and (3) Defendant may use Jessica's prior convictions for impeachment purposes. The court addresses each assertion in turn.

         1. ...


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