United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Evidence — other acts
In an excessive force trial, it was not error to admit evidence that the plaintiff had taken heroin prior to his arrest.
“Here, we cannot find that evidence of Smith’s drug use on December 7 was unfairly prejudicial. Smith argues that admitting evidence of the December 7 heroin use ‘undoubtedly diverted the jury’s attention from its Task’ and ‘allowed the jury to decide against Smith not because his rights were violated, but because he used illegal drugs.’ (Appellant’s Br. at 23.) However, the defense presented to the jury a substantial amount of evidence on Smith’s involvement with narcotics. For example, the jury heard that Smith was arrested on December 7 with drugs in his pocket and on December 28 with drugs laid out in front of him. The jury heard that officers went to Smith’s house on December 28 to inquire about Smith’s association with a drug dealer. Given the other evidence of narcotics involvement and use before the jury, we do not find Smith’s argument credible. Evidence of Smith’s December 7 heroin use was neither significantly more inflammatory than the other drug evidence, nor did it convey a false impression. We do not think that it was an abuse of discretion for the trial court to decide that evidence of Smith’s drug use was not unfairly prejudicial when other evidence linking him to narcotics had been properly admitted. (R. 130 at 47) (‘[I]t’s not overly prejudicial . . . when we have heard from this defendant that he has a possession with intent to distribute conviction, that he has two possession drug convictions, that he had drugs on him . . . .’).”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Kendall, J., Kanne, J.