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United States v. Jadusingh

United States District Court, E.D. New York

January 14, 2020

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
RASHEDA JADUSINGH, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Hon. Kiyo A. Matsumoto United States District Judge.

         On March 23, 2018, a grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of New York returned an indictment charging Rasheda Jadusingh (“Ms. Jadusingh”) and two co-defendants with conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.[1] Jury selection and trial on the indictment are scheduled to begin on February 3, 2020. The Government filed several motions in limine in advance of trial. Ms. Jadusingh has not filed any pre-trial motions. For the reasons set forth below, the Government's motions are granted in part and denied in part.

         Standard of Review

         “A district court's inherent authority to manage the course of its trials encompasses the right to rule on motions in limine.Highland Capital Mgmt., LP. v. Schneider, 551 F.Supp.2d 173, 176-77 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (citing Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4 (1984)). Motions in limine “aid the trial process by enabling the Court to rule in advance of trial on the relevance of certain forecasted evidence.” Palmieri v. Defaria, 88 F.3d 136, 141 (2d Cir. 1996) (internal quotation marks omitted). The trial court should only exclude evidence when it is “clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds, ” United States v. Paredes, 176 F.Supp.2d 192, 193 (S.D.N.Y. 2001), and the ruling remains “subject to change when the case unfolds, particularly if the actual testimony differs from what was contained in the [movant's] proffer, ” Luce, 469 U.S. at 41.

         The Federal Rules of Evidence provide the framework for determining the admissibility of evidence. “As a general matter, all relevant evidence is admissible . . . unless specifically excluded.” United States v. Perez, 387 F.3d 201, 209 (2d Cir. 2004) (citing Fed.R.Evid. 402). “[E]vidence is ‘relevant' if it has ‘any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.'” United States v. Abu-Jihaad, 630 F.3d 102, 132 (2d Cir. 2010). (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 401). Relevant evidence may be excluded “if ‘its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of . . . unfair prejudice, '” United States v. Bourne, No. 08-CR-888(NGG), 2011 WL 4458846, at *12 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 23, 2011); Fed.R.Evid. 403, and irrelevant evidence is never admissible, Fed.R.Evid. 402.

         Discussion

         The Government moves in limine to (1) preclude Ms. Jadusingh from introducing what it characterizes as her own self-serving and false exculpatory statements; (2) preclude Ms. Jadusingh from mentioning at trial, during jury addresses, cross-examination, or otherwise, any consequences she may face upon conviction, whether immigration or penal; and (3) admit evidence of Ms. Jadusingh's prior attempt to export cocaine from Jamaica as “other acts” evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence (“FRE”) 404(b). (ECF No. 79, Government's Motions in Limine (“Gov't Br.”).) For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the Government's motions to preclude Ms. Jadusingh from introducing her own self-serving statements or discussing the potential consequences of her conviction, but the Court denies the Government's motion to admit evidence of Ms. Jadusingh's prior attempt to export cocaine from Jamaica under FRE 404(b).

         I. Motion to Preclude Ms. Jadusingh's “Self-Serving and False Exculpatory” Statements

         The Government first asks the Court to “preclude [Ms. Jadusingh] from introducing, through an opening statement, cross-examination or otherwise, any of [her] self-serving post-arrest statements because they are inadmissible hearsay and are not needed to provide context or a ‘fair and impartial understanding' of any statement the government may offer.” (Gov't Br. at 7.) Ms. Jadusingh “ha[s] no objections to the [G]overnment's motion seeking to preclude statements made by [her] that the [G]overnment describes as self-serving and false.” (ECF No. 130, Defendant's Response to Government's Motions in Limine (“Def. Br.”), at 1.) The Court grants the Government's motion.

         The Federal Rules of Evidence generally exclude as hearsay any “statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” Fed.R.Evid. 801(c); United States v. Marin, 669 F.2d 73, 84 (2d Cir. 1982) (“In general, hearsay statements are not admissible at trial.” (citing Fed.R.Evid. 802)). Thus, a criminal defendant's out-of-court statements, like Ms. Jadusingh's post-arrest statements, are not admissible unless permitted by “a federal statute; [the Federal Rules of Evidence]; or other rules prescribed by the [United States] Supreme Court.” Fed.R.Evid. 801(c), 802.

         “The rule against hearsay would not bar the [G]overnment from introducing [Ms. Jadusingh's] statements because ‘[a] statement . . . offered against an opposing party and . . . [that] was made by the party' is not hearsay.” United States v. Cooper, No. 19-CR-159 (ARR), 2019 WL 5394622, at *6 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 22, 2019) (citing Fed.R.Evid. 801(d)(2)(A) (emphasis added)); see also Marin, 669 F.2d at 84. It would, however, bar Ms. Jadusingh from introducing her own post-arrest statements to prove the truth of the matter(s) asserted. Cooper, 2019 WL 5394622, at *6 (“[T]he rule against hearsay would bar [the defendant] from introducing his own out-of-court statements offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted.”); Marin, 669 F.2d at 84 (“When [a criminal] defendant seeks to introduce his own prior statement for the truth of the matter asserted, it is hearsay, and it is not admissible.”). Ms. Jadusingh would, consequently, not be entitled to admit her own post-arrest statements by operation of the rule against hearsay.

         Because the Government plans to introduce only part of Ms. Jadusingh's post-arrest statements, however, she could theoretically seek admission of certain post-arrest statements pursuant to the “doctrine of completeness.” This doctrine permits the introduction of hearsay where doing so “is necessary to explain the admitted portion, to place it in context, or to avoid misleading the trier of fact, ” Marin, 669 F.2d at 84; see also Fed. R. Evid. 106; United States v. Thiam, 934 F.3d 89, 96 (2d Cir. 2019), cert. denied, No. 19-594, 2019 WL 6689707 (U.S. Dec. 9, 2019) (“[T]he rule of completeness ‘is violated only where admission of the statement in redacted form distorts its meaning or excludes information substantially exculpatory of the declarant.'” (quoting United States v. Benitez, 920 F.2d 1080, 1086-87 (2d Cir. 1990))), with the goal of “ensur[ing] a ‘fair and impartial understanding' of the admitted portion, ” Marin, 669 F.2d at 84 (quoting United States v. Capaldo, 402 F.2d 821, 824 (2d Cir. 1968)).

         In its submission, the Government represents that Ms. Jadusingh's self-serving post-arrest statements are “not needed to provide context or a ‘fair and impartial understanding' of any statement the government may offer, ” rendering them beyond the scope of the doctrine of completeness. (Gov't Br. at 7.) Ms. Jadusingh does not contest the Government's assertion, nor does she offer an alternative evidentiary basis for the admission of the challenged statements or oppose the Government's motion at all. In light of the foregoing, the Court grants the Government's motion to preclude Ms. Jadusingh from introducing any of her self-serving post-arrest statements.[2]

         II. Motion to Preclude Discussion of the Potential Consequences of ...


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