United States District Court, District of Columbia
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ex rel., AARON J. WESTRICK, Ph.D., Plaintiffs,
SECOND CHANCE BODY ARMOR, INC., et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. FRIEDMAN United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on the motion in limine
[Dkt. No. 619] of the United States to exclude the testimony
of Angela Watson-Spitler. Pro se defendant Richard
C. Davis intends to call Ms. Watson-Spitler as a fact witness
at the bench trial set to begin on June 18, 2018. The United
States seeks to exclude her testimony as irrelevant under
Rule 402 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, and as unfairly
prejudicial and a waste of time under Rule 403.
Plaintiff-relator Dr. Aaron J. Westrick joins the United
States' motion. See Mot. in Limine at 1
n.1. Mr. Davis opposes the motion. See id.
evaluating the admissibility of proffered evidence on a
pretrial motion in limine, the Court must assess
whether the evidence is relevant and, if so, whether it is
admissible, pursuant to Rules 401 and 402 of the Federal
Rules of Evidence. See Daniels v. District of
Columbia, 15 F.Supp.3d 62, 66 (D.D.C. 2014).
“Evidence is relevant if: (a) it has any tendency to
make a fact more or less probable than it would be without
the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence in
determining the action.” Fed.R.Evid. 401. Relevant
evidence is admissible unless provided otherwise by the U.S.
Constitution, a federal statute, the Federal Rules of
Evidence, or other rules prescribed by the Supreme Court.
See Fed.R.Evid. 402. “Irrelevant evidence is
not admissible.” Id. A court may
“exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is
substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the
following: unfair prejudice, . . . [and] wasting time . . .
.” Fed R. Evid. 403. Because virtually all material
evidence is prejudicial in one way or another, Rule 403
applies only where the prejudice is unfair. See United
States v. Pettiford, 517 F.3d 584, 590 (D.C. Cir. 2008).
Watson-Spitler is one of three witnesses whom Mr. Davis
intends to offer at trial. Mr. Davis has previously explained
that Ms. Watson-Spitler, a former Ohio Highway Patrol
officer, was shot while wearing a non-Zylon vest.
See February 22, 2018 Pretrial Conference Hr'g
Tr. at 121:16-122:22 [Dkt. No. 611]. He intends to ask Ms.
Watson-Spitler about her experience being shot while wearing
a non-Zylon vest and about blunt force trauma. See
id.; see also Revised Joint Pretrial Statement
at 27 [Dkt. No. 625]; March 29, 2018 Letter from R. Davis
[Dkt. No. 623-1]. He has stated that he “do[es] not
plan to call [Ms. Watson-Spitler] as an expert witness, but
as a fact witness, ” and expects that “her
testimony will take less than 10 minutes, if that.”
See March 20, 2018 Letter from R. Davis [Dkt. No.
619-1]. The United States contends that Ms. Watson-Spitler
“has no relevant evidence about the performance of
Second Chance's Zylon vests” and that her testimony
would be unfairly prejudicial and a waste of time because she
was not wearing a Zylon vest when she was shot. See
Mot. in Limine at 2-3.
that this matter is set for a bench trial, and in light of
Mr. Davis' pro se status, the Court will permit
Ms. Watson-Spitler to testify and will reserve judgment on
the relevance and probative value of her testimony. The Court
will decide at trial or before rendering its decision in this
case whether her testimony is irrelevant in whole or in part
or is offered for an improper purpose. See
Fed.R.Evid. 401 and 402. The Court will likewise exercise its
discretion under Rule 403 to ensure that her testimony is not
unduly prejudicial or time-consuming. See
Fed.R.Evid. 403. In view of Mr. Davis' representations,
Ms. Watson-Spitler's testimony is not likely to be a
waste of time.
Court recognizes its obligation to provide pro se
litigants with somewhat more latitude than is provided to
litigants represented by counsel. See Moore v. Agency for
Int'l Dev., 994 F.2d 874, 876 (D.C. Cir. 1993). At
trial, the Court will continue its efforts to explain the
appropriate procedures and the Court's rulings to Mr.
Davis. See id. (explaining that the trial court
should provide pro se litigants “with the
necessary knowledge to participate effectively in the trial
of the foregoing reasons, it is hereby
that the United States' motion in limine [Dkt.
No. 619] to exclude the testimony of Angela Watson-Spitler is
 The Court will also reserve for
judgment at trial whether to permit any attempt by Mr. Davis
to offer Ms. Watson-Spitler as a character witness pursuant
to Rule 404(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of ...