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Council on American-Islamic Relations Action Network, Inc. v. Gaubatz

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 26, 2018

COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS ACTION NETWORK, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PAUL DAVID GAUBATZ, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY United States District Judge.

         Pending before this Court are the [247] Gaubatz Defendants' Motions in Limine (“Motions”), containing seven motions in limine presented in summary form, and the [252] Plaintiffs' Responses to Gaubatz Defendants' Motions in Limine (“Responses”), equally in summary form. The Gaubatz Defendants (“Defendants”) did not file a reply to the Plaintiffs' Responses. The Court will address the seven motions contained in the [247] Motions in the order in which they were presented by Defendants.

         Motion in Limine No. 1

         Defendants seek to preclude Nadhira Al-Khalili, former in-house legal counsel to CAIR-F, from testifying regarding the contents of the video recordings made by Chris Gaubatz.[1]Defendants rely on a stipulation proffered by Ms. Al-Khalili during her deposition that “she would not offer any testimony regarding her viewing of the video recordings made by Chris Gaubatz.” See Motions at 2. Defendants indicate that based on that stipulation, they declined to further question Ms. Al-Khalili regarding this topic. See Id. Defendants would thus be prejudiced by their reliance on Ms. Al-Kahlili's stipulation if she were to testify at trial regarding the contents of the video recordings.

         Plaintiffs agree that Ms. Al-Khalili “will not testify as to her review of any of the audio-video recordings made by Chris Gaubatz” but assert that this should not preclude Ms. Al-Khalili from testifying as to her memory of actual events, as opposed to her review of the audio-video recordings. See Responses at 1. Because Plaintiffs have agreed that Ms. Al-Khalili will not address the contents of the audio-video recordings, which seems to be the focus of Defendants' motion in limine, Defendants' Motion in Limine No. 1 shall be DENIED AS MOOT. Ms. Al-Khalili is not precluded from testifying as to her memory of actual events.

         Motion in Limine No. 2

         Defendants request that this Court bar statements by Nihad Hammad or others on his behalf, which claim that “CAIR is like African American Civil Rights organizations and/or Mr. Hammad like Martin Luther King, Jr.”[2] See Motions at 3. Defendants claim that because these statements are “emotionally loaded” and they “strongly favor” the Plaintiffs, they should be disallowed pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 403, which addresses the exclusion of evidence based on prejudice or confusion. In support thereof, Defendants cite to deposition testimony by Mr. Hammad whereby he states that CAIR is a civil rights organization working on Muslim civil rights, and indicates his admiration for his “role model, ” Martin Luther King. See Motions at 4-5, citing Hammad deposition.

         Plaintiffs contend that if Defendants ask CAIR witnesses about the CAIR organization and its purposes, the witnesses should be able to respond that it is a civil rights group. The Court declines to preclude statements by CAIR witnesses that compare the organization to other civil rights organizations, in the context of such witnesses proffering their opinion as to the organization and its purposes. Accordingly, Defendants' Motion in Limine No. 2 shall be DENIED.

         Motion in Limine No. 3

         Defendants seek to require witnesses to refer to CAIR-F and CAIR-AN rather than CAIR or CAIR-National, consistent with the manner in which this Court has characterized the two CAIR entities operating out of Washington, D.C. Defendants recognize an exception for people who “do not know the difference between the “CAIR” entities with the effect that their reference to “CAIR” is necessarily generic.” See Motions at 7. Plaintiffs contend that this request is overly broad and thus, unenforceable, and they assert that Defendants may question witnesses regarding any generic reference to CAIR.

         The Court finds that resolution of this motion requires an equal burden on counsel for the parties and the witnesses. First, counsel shall attempt to structure their questions to specify the CAIR entity at issue, if the question relates to one of the CAIR entities and not the other. Second, the witnesses shall be instructed by counsel to make distinctions between the CAIR entities if they are only speaking about one entity or the other, to the extent that such witnesses can distinguish between CAIR-F and CAIR-AN in response to questions. These practices are to ensure that the record in this case is clear and limit the number of objections at trial. The Court notes that CAIR-F and CAIR-AN are the abbreviations that will be used throughout the trial. Accordingly, Defendants' Motion in Limine No. 3 is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

         Motion in Limine No. 4

         Defendants request that the Court require that non-D.C. based CAIR entities be referenced by their location, such as CAIR-Maryland and CAIR-Virginia, in order to avoid confusion. Plaintiffs assert that because there is no explanation offered for the request other than the need to maintain corporate distinctions, it should be denied.

         The Court finds Plaintiffs' response to Defendants' request non-responsive as it seems obvious on its face that Defendants seek to avoid confusion regarding the various CAIR entities. Nor have Plaintiffs indicated that this request imposes any undue burden on counsel or ...


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