United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ORDER ON DEFENSE REQUEST FOR AN ORDER THAT ALL
FACT-SPECIFIC IN LIMINE MOTIONS BE FILED UNDER SEAL (DOC. NO.
1884), AND DEFENSE MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE IRRELEVANT AND
PREJUDICIAL ACTS OF CUSTODIAL MISCONDUCT BY OTHERS (DOC. NO.
Sorokin, United States District Judge
Lee Sampson pled guilty to two counts of carjacking resulting
in death and was sentenced to death in 2004. The First
Circuit affirmed the judgment. United States v.
Sampson, 486 F.3d 13 (1st Cir. 2007). In 2011, the Court
(Wolf, J.) vacated the death sentence in light of juror
misconduct, and the First Circuit affirmed, ruling that
Sampson is entitled to a new penalty phase trial pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2255. Sampson v. United States, 724
F.3d 150, 170 (1st Cir. 2013). The case was reassigned to
this session of the Court on January 6, 2016.
Court now addresses two pending defense motions: (1) Motion
for Clarification Regarding Motions in Limine, and Request
for an Order That All Fact-Specific In Limine Motions Be
Filed Under Seal (Doc. No. 1884), and (2) Motion In Limine to
Exclude Irrelevant and Prejudicial Acts of Custodial
Misconduct by Others From Any Cross-Examination of Experts or
Government Rebuttal Testimony As It Relates to Future
Dangerousness (Doc. No. 1891-1).
Motion for Clarification Regarding Motions in Limine, and
Request for an Order That All Fact-Specific In Limine Motions
Be Filed Under Seal
first motion raises two issues, both of which are moot. For
one, Sampson seeks clarification regarding the types of
motions in limine that were, and were not, subject to a
filing deadline of May 15, 2015 that Judge Wolf imposed. Doc.
No. 1884 at 1-3. Given that this deadline has long since
passed, and that this session of the Court set a separate
schedule for pretrial motion practice (Doc. No. 2146 at 1),
Sampson's request for clarification is MOOT.
Sampson's request for “an order that all
fact-specific in limine motions initially be filed under
seal” also is MOOT in light of the guidance the Court
has previously provided the parties.
Motion In Limine to Exclude Irrelevant and Prejudicial Acts
of Custodial Misconduct by Others From Any Cross-Examination
of Experts or Government Rebuttal Testimony As It
Relates to Future Dangerousness
to the second motion before the Court, the government at
Sampson's first penalty phase trial advanced the
non-statutory aggravating factor of “Future
Dangerousness of the Defendant While Incarcerated.”
Doc. No. 103 at 5, 8-9. The government alleged in this factor
that Sampson was “likely to commit criminal acts of
violence in the future which would be a continuing and
serious threat to the lives and safety of prison officials
and inmates.” Id. To defend against the future
dangerousness factor, the defense at the first trial called
an expert, Dr.
Cunningham, who was permitted to testify to conditions of
confinement in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). United States
v. Sampson, 335 F.Supp.2d 166, 226-27 (D. Mass. 2004).
Judge Wolf, however, limited the scope of Dr.
Cunningham's testimony in a manner relevant to the
present motion. Although he permitted Dr. Cunningham to
testify generally “about the ability of the
BOP to control inmates, including gross statistics regarding
assaults and other misconduct, ” he “did not
permit testimony regarding specific other
prisoners.” Id. at 227 (emphasis added).
to say, Judge Wolf prohibited Dr. Cunningham from testifying
about BOP's ability to control specific inmates other
than Sampson. Judge Wolf reasoned that “[e]ach person
in the custody of the BOP is unique, ” and that
“the probative value of information about the BOP's
ability or inability to control a particular other prisoner
was outweighed by the danger of misleading the jury into
thinking that the BOP would have a similar experience with
new penalty phase trial, the government again will assert the
future dangerousness aggravating factor, Doc. No. 2197 at 4,
6, and Sampson again intends to defend against this factor by
calling an expert witness who likely will testify that BOP
can manage Sampson safely such that he will not pose a risk
of danger in the future. Doc. No. 2318 at 44-47. The defense
foresees that the government may respond to such testimony by
attempting to show that BOP is not always capable of safely
managing violent offenders, and that the government may seek
to do so by eliciting evidence concerning specific instances,
not involving Sampson, in which BOP inmates have committed
violent acts in BOP facilities. Id. at 45.
Therefore, by way of the motion before the Court, Sampson
seeks an order precluding the government from eliciting
testimony regarding specific violent acts committed by BOP
inmates other than Sampson, particularly during
cross-examination of his future dangerousness expert(s) and
in the government's rebuttal case. Doc. No. 1891-2 at
1-2. The government objects. Doc. No. 1922 at 1. For the
reasons that follow, the motion is ALLOWED.
Court has said before, as a general matter it intends to
adhere to Judge Wolf's rulings from the first penalty
phase trial regarding the exclusion of evidence. Doc. No.
2189 at 35-36. And, as noted, supra, Judge Wolf
“did not permit testimony regarding specific other
prisoners, ” reasoning that “the probative value
of information about the BOP's ability or
inability to control a particular other
prisoner was outweighed by the danger of misleading the jury
into thinking that the BOP would have a similar experience
with Sampson.” Sampson, 335 F.Supp.2d at 227
(emphasis added). That ruling stands. Veering from Judge
Wolf's ruling would detract from the Court's
objective of reaching an individualized sentence for Sampson
by transforming the new penalty phase trial into a series of
mini-trials regarding the facts of specific violent acts by
other inmates. See United States v. Sampson, 486
F.3d 13, 44-45 (1st Cir. 2007) (affirming Judge Wolf's
exclusion of evidence of other capital prosecutions and
approving of his reasoning that admission of such evidence
would result in distracting mini-trials).
neither party is permitted to elicit testimony regarding the
specific conduct of BOP inmates other than Sampson.
Therefore, the government may not elicit testimony, on
cross-examination or in rebuttal, regarding BOP's
inability to control a specific prisoner who is not, and has
nothing to do with, Sampson. However, either side, of course,
may offer general information concerning the success or
failure of BOP policies and procedures aimed at preventing
serious acts of violence, as ...