The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS TO EXCLUDE ARGUMENT AND EVIDENCE (Dkts. 89, 90)
Before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motions in Limine (Dkts. 89 & 90) asking to preclude the Defendant from introducing argument and evidence: (1) that Plaintiff had previously agreed to certain conditions of approval; and, (2) of any justification not stated in the Boise County Commissioner's written Decision and Order regarding the conditions imposed in granting Plaintiffs' application for Conditional Use Permit (CUP) permit. Plaintiff argues that both types of evidence are irrelevant and/or unduly prejudicial under Fed. R. Evid. 401 & 403. Defendant objects that this evidence -- essentially part of the historical record of the CUP proceedings -- is highly relevant and probative to defend against Plaintiffs' allegations that Defendant discriminated against Plaintiffs through the process and with its final Decision and Order on the CUP, and that Plaintiffs' objections go to the weight of the evidence, not its admissibility. The motions have been fully briefed. The Court being familiar with the record and pleadings will deny the motions.
1. Motion to Preclude Argument That Plaintiffs Previously Agreed To Certain Conditions Condition No. 27 of the Boise County Commissioner's approval of the Alamar Ranch CUP required that Alamar Ranch submit a transportation plan that included, among other things, a "second ingress and egress from Alamar that does not use the existing bridge over Grimes Creek that allows two-way traffic at all times of the year." Decision and Order, April 21, 2008 (Dkt. 104, Ex. 12, at 23).
Plaintiffs move to preclude Defendant from presenting argument or evidence that Alamar Ranch had "previously agreed to the condition regarding the secondary road and bridge" as Defendant similarly argued in opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Def. Opp'n, Dkt. 90 at 1 (citing Dkt. 59 at 19 - 20). Plaintiffs argue that Defendant should not be permitted to make this argument in front of the jury in support of Defendant's contention that the condition was reasonable because the argument is irrelevant, incorrect or misleading, and is unduly prejudicial for several reasons.
Plaintiffs first argue that ultimately, the applicable safety organization -- the Wilderness Ranch Fire Protection District (WRFPD) -- agreed that a secondary bridge was unnecessary, and that an alternative secondary access road that Alamar Ranch had proposed, presumptively a less onerous requirement, would suffice to address safety concerns. Next, Plaintiffs dispute the fact that Alamar Ranch agreed at all to the secondary road access and bridge ultimately imposed by the County which was to be "accessible 24 hrs. per day, 365 days each year" and be a "PCU Collector Road." Dkt. 89 at 3 (citing Banducci Aff., Dkt. 104, Ex. 12, at 11). Finally, Plaintiffs argue that Defendant improperly implies that Alamar Ranch breached promises made to the Planning and Zoning Commission when Alamar Ranch presented the secondary road access alternative to the Boise County Commissioners during their de novo review of the Planning and Zoning Commission's decision. Plaintiffs argue accordingly that this argument and any evidence on this point should be excluded under Fed. R. Civ. P. 401 and 403.
Defendant disputes Plaintiffs' rendition of the facts as to whether or not Alamar Ranch agreed to the secondary road access and secondary bridge condition, and argues that this fact is highly probative of Defendant's defense that Condition 27 was not motivated by discrimination but rather was imposed in reliance upon previous representations by or agreements with Alamar Ranch.
The Court agrees that the argument and evidence Plaintiffs seek to preclude appears to be highly probative of Defendant's motive and therefore admissible under Fed.
R. Evid. 401. The Court disagrees that the probative value of the evidence is outweighed by its potential prejudice at this stage. Plaintiffs have put forth no argument explaining exactly how the evidence is prejudicial beyond disputing the truth of the facts, or their relevance to Plaintiffs' claims, both of which are in dispute and matters for the jury to determine. The Court agrees that Plaintiffs' objections go to the weight of the evidence, not its admissibility. Accordingly, the Court will deny Plaintiffs' motion under Fed. R. Evid. 401 and 403.*fn1
2. Plaintiffs' Motion in Limine to Preclude Argument and Evidence of Justifications For Imposing Conditions Which Were Not Stated in the Decision and Order Plaintiffs ask the Court to preclude Defendant from "arguing or presenting any evidence of justifications for imposing conditions of approval on Alamar Ranch that were not stated in the April 21, 2008, Decisions and Order of the Boise County Board of Commissioners." Pl. Mot., Dkt. 107 at 1. Plaintiffs argue that any justifications not set forth in the written decision are "post facto" and are irrelevant under Fed. R. Evid. 401 and 402, and any probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury. Plaintiffs also argue that any
"legitimate and nondiscriminatory reasons" should have been stated in open meetings and in the Decision and Order as pursuant to the Idaho Open Meetings Law. I.C. § 67-2340 ("formation of public policy is public business and shall not be conducted in secret.") Accordingly, Plaintiffs argue, that Defendant cannot rely on any justifications that were not part of the public record.
Defendant responds generally that there is no legal authority to limit Defendant's presentation of the evidence in its defense to what was expressly contained in its written decision, and that Plaintiffs' argument again goes to the weight and credibility of the evidence, not its admissibility.
Plaintiffs list eight specific additional justifications not contained in the written Decision and Order which Defendant should be precluded from arguing. The Court will first address the argument that the evidence should be precluded as violative of the Idaho Open Meetings Law, and then address any remaining arguments by category.
A. Evidence Of Additional Justifications Is Not Inadmissible As Violative Of The Idaho Open Meetings Law Plaintiff argues that Defendant should be precluded from arguing any justification for the conditions of approval not set forth in the written Decision and Order because such justifications would be violative of the Idaho's Open Meetings Law. Plaintiffs cite no legal authority for their position. Defendant responds that such challenges to Idaho's ...