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United States v. Mendoza

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 17, 2019

United States of America Plaintiff,
v.
Martin Gerardo Mendoza, Defendant.

          ORDER

          David G, Campbell, Senior United States District Judge.

         The government has charged Defendant Martin Gerardo Mendoza with three counts of abusive sexual contact in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1152, 2242(2)(B), 2244(b), 2246(2)(A), and 2246(3). Doc. 40. Pending before the Court are Mendoza's and the government's motions in limine. Docs. 61, 62, 73. The Court will deny Mendoza's motion and grant the government's motions in part.

         I. Background.

         The government alleges that Mendoza sexually abused his coworker, C.B., while at a work conference. See Docs. 40; 61 at 2. On May 3, 2018, Mendoza and C.B. drove together to the conference in Prescott, Arizona. Doc. 61 at 2. Later that evening, Mendoza and C.B. visited several bars with their coworkers and C.B. became very intoxicated. Unable to walk unaided, Mendoza and another coworker helped C.B. to her hotel room, used her room key to enter, placed her on the bed, and then left. Id. According to the government, Mendoza kept C.B.'s room key and, about 30 minutes later, returned to abuse her. Id.

         II. Federal Rules of Evidence 401, 402, and 403.

         The relevance and admissibility of evidence at trial is governed in part by Rules 401, 402, and 403. Evidence is relevant under Rule 401 if it has any tendency to make a material fact more or less probable. Fed.R.Evid. 401(a)-(b). Rule 402 provides that relevant evidence is admissible unless otherwise excluded by the rules, a federal statute, or the Constitution, and that irrelevant evidence is not admissible. Fed.R.Evid. 402. Rule 403 states that relevant evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of “unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.” Fed.R.Evid. 403. Trial courts have discretion to limit or exclude evidence under Rules 402 and 403. United States v. Scholl, 166 F.3d 964, 971 (9th Cir. 1999).

         III. The Government's Motions.

         A. To Preclude Testimony under Rules 401-404 and 608.

         Mendoza disclosed summaries of his investigator's interviews with two coworkers, Martin Lopez and Sonia Bermudez. See Doc. 61 at 3. Based on that disclosure, the government moves to preclude certain testimony under Rules 401-404 and 608. Id. at 2-3.

         Lopez stated to the investigator that C.B. is “more aggressive than most women, ” a “very jolly person, ” and “one of the guys.” Id. at 3. He also stated that a supervisor once “threw some work gloves on [C.B.'s] desk and asked her to do something with them, ” and C.B. felt offended. Id. Of this incident, Lopez stated that C.B. “made a bigger deal than it actually was.” Id. He reported that he did not feel comfortable going to conferences with her because he did not want her to “turn things into something they're not, ” and that he has lost trust in her. Id. Lopez stated also that Mendoza is nice, honest, and “not a pig.” Id.

         Bermudez described C.B. as loud, and “aggressive at work.” Id. She stated that C.B. has made unspecified “racial remarks” about “black guys or Chinese guys, ” and that C.B. has no filter, acts like a teenager, and “lacks common sense for a woman her age.” Id. Bermudez reported that C.B. once embarrassed herself at a party and needs to stop drinking. Id.

         Mendoza does not seek to admit much of the testimony above, and offers only the following under Rule 608. See Doc. 74. Mendoza will elicit from Lopez that C.B. “is dangerous and will turn things into something they are not, ” and that she lacks a character for truthfulness. Id. at 5. If Mendoza's character for truthfulness is attacked, Lopez will also testify that Mendoza is truthful. Id. at 6.

         Mendoza will elicit from Bermudez that C.B. is not credible and exaggerates a lot. Id. He also seeks to elicit Bermudez's testimony about two specific events where C.B. drank alcohol at parties and acted “in a sexually aggressive manner” to different coworkers. Id. at 6. Bermudez would also testify about her conversations with C.B. after the ...


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