Argued: March 8, 2013
Defendants-Appellants Salim Randall and Michael Burbridge appeal from the 2012 judgment of liability of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Weinstein, Judge). After a jury trial, Defendants-Appellants were found liable for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and violation of Joshua Marshall's right to a fair trial. They were ordered to pay damages of $95, 000 each. We hold that there was no error in the district court's trial rulings. AFFIRMED.
JON L. NORINSBERG (Gerald M. Cohen, Joshua P. Fitch, Cohen & Fitch LLP, on the brief), New York, NY, for Plaintiff-Appellee.
AVSHALOM YOTAM (Francis F. Caputo, Karen M. Griffin on the brief), of counsel to Michael A. Cardozo, Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, New York, NY, for Defendants-Appellants.
Before: WALKER, LYNCH, and CARNEY, Circuit Judges.
JOHN M. WALKER, JR., Circuit Judge:
Defendants-Appellants Salim Randall and Michael Burbridge appeal from the 2012 judgment of liability of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Weinstein, Judge). After a jury trial, Defendants-Appellants were found liable for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and violation of Joshua Marshall's right to a fair trial. They were ordered to pay damages of $95, 000 each. We hold that there was no error in the district court's trial rulings and affirm the judgment.
We assume the parties' familiarity with the underlying facts and procedural history and recite only those details relevant to this appeal.
On May 15, 2008, Marshall was arrested in Brooklyn by Police Officers Randall, Burbridge, and Kieran Fox (who is not a defendant in this case). Marshall was walking down a sidewalk with another man, Demetrios Meade, when they were approached by the officers. As the officers drew near, one of the men threw away a gun, which landed in the street. The officers arrested Marshall on the charge of possessing a loaded firearm. Their statements to the local district attorney resulted in a criminal complaint against Marshall, and their testimony to a grand jury led to Marshall's indictment. Marshall was released in September 2008 after four months in jail. Approximately eight months after his release from jail, the judge dismissed Marshall's case on speedy trial grounds.
Marshall then sued Randall and Burbridge under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and denial of his constitutional right to a fair trial. The essence of Marshall's claim was that the officers lied when they said they had seen Marshall throw the gun. At trial, Marshall called the two officers as part of his direct case and cross-examined them as hostile witnesses. Marshall's strategy at trial was to attack the officers' credibility based on inconsistencies in their accounts of the events on the night of the arrest.
The initial police complaint and arrest report, filled out by Randall, indicated only that Marshall "was found to be in possession of a loaded firearm." J.A. 85 (Police Compl.). The criminal complaint filed by the Kings County District Attorney's office similarly stated that Randall "observed the defendant in possession of a loaded .38 Caliber Smith and Wesson revolver." Id. at 104 (Crim. Ct. Compl.). Randall testified to the grand jury that Marshall "pulled a firearm out of his waist[band] and tossed it into the street." Id. at 129-30 (Grand Jury Tr.). At his deposition, Randall testified that he saw Marshall in physical possession of the pistol "[w]hen he reached into his pants and pulled out an object and threw it to the ground." Id. at 571 (Dep. Tr.). At trial, however, Randall admitted that he never saw the gun in Marshall's "actual physical possession, " id. at 1001 (Trial Tr.), but that he "saw the motion, . . . [and] heard the clink when it hit the ground, " id. at 1003 (Trial Tr.).
The evidence against Burbridge was similar. The criminal complaint stated that Burbridge "recovered [the] revolver from the ground where [Burbridge] observed the defendant throw it." Id. at 104 (Crim. Ct. Compl.). Burbridge testified to the grand jury that he "observed Mr. Marshall remove what appeared to be a silver firearm from his waist[band] and throw it under a vehicle." Id. at 123-24 (Grand Jury Tr.). At his pre-trial deposition, Burbridge testified that he could not remember from which part of his waistband Marshall pulled the gun, but at trial he testified that Marshall pulled the gun from the center of his waistband. Burbridge also gave conflicting deposition testimony about whether he saw Marshall make a furtive movement before his decision to approach Marshall and Meade, or whether that decision had been based entirely on his recognition of Marshall from a NYPD database of police and arrest reports.
The jury found Randall and Burbridge liable on all three counts and awarded $95, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages against each officer. This appeal followed.
Randall and Burbridge challenge three elements of the district court's trial rulings: (1) the use of their grand jury testimony as violative of the rule in Rehberg v. Paulk, 132 S.Ct. 1497 (2012); (2) the lack of a jury instruction disclosing that Marshall's criminal case was dismissed on speedy trial grounds; and (3) the exclusion from trial of evidence that ...