United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
TIMOTHY D. DeGIUSTI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are Defendant's motions in limine: (1) to
Exclude the Testimony of Hill Feinberg and Pamela Bale [Doc.
No. 70]; and (2) to Admit Evidence of Acquittals [Doc. No.
71]. The government has responded. The matter is fully
briefed and at issue.
matter stems from a prior criminal case in which the
government alleged Ken Ezeah and Akunna Ejiofor created a
scheme to commit identity theft and wire fraud. In sum, the
defendants were alleged to have set up various online dating
profiles using false information, formed online relationships
with several women, and then persuaded those women to wire
money by promising to manage their money and investments.
Ezeah subsequently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit
wire fraud. Ejiofor opted to go to trial, where a jury found
her guilty on all counts.
Defendant was similarly indicted and tried for conspiracy to
commit wire fraud (Count 1), aggravated identity theft (Count
2), and wire fraud (Counts 3-4) in October 2018. On October
11, 2018, the jury acquitted Mr. Ojimba on Counts 2-4 and a
mistrial was declared as to Count 1. The government filed an
Advisement to the Court [Doc. No. 67] on November 16, 2018,
of its intent to retry Mr. Ojimba on Count 1, conspiracy to
commit wire fraud.
in this Order are two motions in limine filed by Defendant.
First, Defendant moves to preclude the government from
calling Pamela Bale and Hill Feinberg as witnesses based on
his acquittals. Second, Defendant seeks to admit evidence of
his prior acquittals in this case.
the Federal Rules of Evidence do not explicitly authorize
in limine rulings, the practice has developed
pursuant to the district court's inherent authority to
manage the course of trials.” Luce v. United
States, 469 U.S. 38, 41, n. 16, 105 S.Ct. 460, 463, 83
L.Ed.2d 443 (1984) (citing Fed.R.Evid. 103(c); cf. Fed. R. C.
P. 12(e)). As such, “[t]he purpose of a motion in
limine is to aid the trial process by enabling the Court to
rule in advance of trial on the relevance of certain
forecasted evidence, as to issues that are definitely set for
trial, without lengthy argument at, or interruption of, the
trial.” Mendelsohn v. Sprint/United Mgmt. Co.,
587 F.Supp.2d 1201, 1208 (D. Kan. 2008) aff'd,
402 Fed.Appx. 337 (10th Cir. 2010) (internal quotations
these streamlining benefits, “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). In order
to exclude evidence on a motion in limine “the evidence
must be inadmissible on all potential grounds.”
Ind. Ins. Co. v. Gen. Elec. Co., 326 F.Supp.2d 844,
846 (N.D. Ohio 2004). “Unless evidence meets this high
standard, evidentiary 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). However, “the
district court may change its ruling at any time for whatever
reason it deems appropriate.” Jones v. Stotts,
59 F.3d 143, 146 (10th Cir. 1995) (citations omitted);
see also Luce, 469 U.S. at 41 (“The ruling is
subject to change when the case unfolds … [E]ven if
nothing unexpected happens at trial, the district judge is
free, in the exercise of sound judicial discretion, to alter
a previous in limine ruling.”).
Testimony of Hill Feinberg and Pamela Bale
Defendant moves to preclude the government from calling
Pamela Bale and Hill Feinberg as witnesses based on the
proposition that his acquittal on the wire fraud charges
collaterally estops the government from presenting evidence
related to wire fraud.Defendant argues that because he was
acquitted on the wire fraud charges relating to Feinberg and
Hill, they should not be permitted to testify in support of
the conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Defendant also contends
that the testimony would be irrelevant or prejudicial.
The Doctrine of Collateral Estoppel
Supreme Court held in Ashe v. Swenson, 397 U.S. 436,
44, 90 S.Ct. 1194, 25 L.Ed.2d 469 (1970), that the doctrine
of collateral estoppel, an “establish[ed] rule of
federal law[, ] is embodied in the Fifth Amendment guarantee
against double jeopardy.” See also, Dowling v.
United States, 493 U.S. 342, 347, 110 S.Ct. 668, 671,
107 L.Ed.2d 708 (1990). Collateral estoppel “means
simply that when an issue of ultimate fact has once been
determined by a valid ...